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Consumer price inflation (CPI) fell from 10.7% in November to 10.5% in December

   News / 19 Jan 2023

Published: 19 January 2023

By Suzanne Evans, Director, Political Insight

Consumer price inflation (CPI) fell from 10.7% in November to 10.5% in December, the Office for National Statistics said yesterday. Lower prices for petrol and clothing pushed down the headline rate, but the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages was 16.8% higher than a year earlier, the sharpest increase since September 1977, led by eggs, milk and cheeseRestaurant and hotel prices also jumped in December along with a record rise in air faresThe Bank of England forecast in November that headline CPI would drop from a peak of 11.1% last October to around 5% by the end of 2023 as energy prices stabilise.

Speaking at a WEF23 panel in Davos yesterday, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva affirmed an IMF forecast for global growth to decelerate to 2.7% this year from around 3.2% last year.

A government health tsar warned yesterday that bringing cake into the office should be seen as harmful as passive smoking. Professor Susan Jebbthe Food Standards Agency (FSA) chairwoman, said she was also frustrated by delays in introducing a television watershed for junk food advertising. She said the advertisements are "undermining people's free will" and insisted restrictions were "not about the nanny state". The FSA stressed that her views were made in a personal capacity and did not reflect FSA policy or the view of its board.

More than 10,000 ambulance workers, including paramedics, emergency care assistants and call handlers, will stage four more days of strike action in a dispute over pay and conditions, the GMB union said yesterday. The union's members in England and Wales plan to walkout on 6th and 20th February, and 6th and 20th March.

Manchester Airport has temporarily closed both its runways this morning because of heavy snowfall. A spokesman said passengers' "health and safety will always be our top priority and operations will resume at the earliest opportunity". Travellers have been advised to contact their airline for flight information.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) says the price of air fares soared at a record rate in December, and the cost of coach travel also rose sharply. Plane fares rose by 44.1% in the year to December, the largest increase since the late 1980s. Analysts said the main reason for the fare rises was aviation fuel prices. Meanwhile, price of coach travel rose by 17.5% in December compared with the same month in the previous year, possibly because rail strikes may have increased demand, the ONS said.  

Royal Mail says it has begun moving limited volumes of export parcels and international export letters as it trials "operational workarounds" following the cyber incident which severely disrupted its international export services last week. However, the postal company, part of International Distributions Services Plc (IDSI.L), is continuing to ask customers not to submit new export parcels. "Our initial focus will be to clear mail that has already been processed and is waiting to be despatched," Royal Mail said in a statement.

Harbour Energy, the North Sea's biggest oil and gas producer has told its staff that it plans job cuts in the wake of the windfall tax imposed on the sector last year. The cuts will be made at its headquarters in Aberdeen, but their extent has not yet been revealed. Harbour Energy has 1,700 employees worldwide, according to its website.

Australian billionaire Andrew Forrest, founder of the Australian iron ore giant Fortescue, has told Sky News he plans to open an advanced battery plant in Oxfordshire later this year, creating up to 300 new jobs. Forrest said he was expanding operations at Williams Advanced Engineering, the technical offshoot of the Williams Formula 1 team, which he bought last year. The new plant will work on batteries and fuel cells which could be used in heavy goods vehicles in the coming decades. The news comes barely 24 hours after the collapse of Britishvolt, the firm hoping to build a so-called gigafactory, mass producing batteries for electric cars manufactured in the UK. However, the Williams’ plant has a different focus - on high density batteries for large trucks - and its output will be considerably lower than the promised levels of Britishvolt, Sky says.

Full-year revenues have grown 25% to around £510m at building materials company Ibstock although the firm cautioned that inflation and ongoing market uncertainty would likely weigh on demand in 2023.

UAE telecommunications company e&, formerly Etisalat, has upped its stake in FTSE 100-listed Vodafone Group. E& now holds more than 3.272bn shares in Vodafone, which represents a 12% stake. The additional shares were bought on Tuesday for an undisclosed sum.

Tourism within the EU approached pre-pandemic levels in 2022, according to its statistics office Eurostat said yesterday. The 27-nation bloc recorded 2.72 billion nights spent in tourist accommodation last year, down by only 5.6% from 2019 levels, before border closures, lockdowns and travel restrictions inflicted heavy losses on the tourism industry. This number is an increase of 91.1% and 48.3% from 2020 and 2021 levels, respectively. The figures cover short-stay accommodation in hotels and similar establishments, as well as camping grounds, recreational vehicle parks and trailer parks, Reuters says.

Microsoft is reportedly planning to axe 10,000 jobs, or just under 5% of its workforce, according to Sky News. Bloomberg says roles are expected to be eliminated in its human resources and engineering divisions. Microsoft has so far declined to comment.

Vis Raghavan, CEO of JP Morgan’s companies oversees operations, has warned investment bankers that they should brace themselves for a 30% cut in their bonuses, as revenue was down 57% in the fourth quarter.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern resigned this morning, saying: “I know what this job takes. And I know that I no longer have enough in the tank to do it justice.” She will step down from office on 7th February. Ardern has spent her whole life in politics. She joined the Labour Party at 17, then worked for then-PM Helen Clark, NZ's first female leader, after leaving university in 2001. She became the country’s youngest ever MP at 28, in 2008 aged just 28, and was elected leader and became PM nine years later. The BBC said this morning that her leadership style was “defined by compassion,” however many will remember Ardern for implementing some of the harshest Covid restrictions in the world, embracing a ‘zero-Covid’ policy. New Zealanders suffered border closures for more than two years, meaning those stranded overseas could not return home, and anyone leaving the country was barred from returning. Even buying takeaway food was banned. She mandated covid vaccines until September last year, championing a “two-tier” society for those who did, and did not comply. The latest opinion polls put her personal popularity at its lowest since she was elected, and approval of her party's performance similarly low.

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