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UK inflation hits 9.1%, highest rate in G7

The reading, up 9% in April, matches the consensus of a Reuters poll of economists. Historical records from the Office for National Statistics show May inflation was the highest since March 1982 – and the worst is likely to happen.

Some investors believe Britain is at risk of both persistent high inflation and recession, reflecting its large imported energy bill and lingering Brexit issues that could further damage trade relations with the European Union.

“With such an unclear economic outlook, no one knows how far inflation could go and how long it will continue, which makes fiscal and monetary policy judgments particularly difficult,” said Jack Leslie, senior economist at the Resolution Foundation think tank.

Earlier on Wednesday, the Resolution Foundation said the fall in the cost of living for households had been made worse by Brexit, which had made Britain a more closed economy, with long-term adverse consequences for productivity and salaries.

Britain’s headline inflation rate in May was higher than in the US, France, Germany and Italy. Although Japan and Canada have yet to report consumer price data for May, neither is expected to come close.

The Bank of England said last week that inflation is expected to stay above 9% for the next few months before peaking slightly above 11% in October, when regulated household energy bills are expected to rise again.

The UK government was doing all it could to fight a price spike, Finance Minister Rishi Sunak said after the data.

Prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages rose 8.7% in annual terms in May – the biggest jump since March 2009 and making this category the main driver of annual inflation last month.

Overall consumer prices rose 0.7% in monthly terms in May, the ONS said, slightly more than the consensus of 0.6%.

UK ex-factory prices – a key determinant of prices consumers later pay in stores – were 22.1% higher in May than a year earlier, the biggest increase since such records began in 1985, said the ONS.

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