United Kingdom inflation reaches a 2 1/2-year high in January

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USA consumer prices rose in January at the fastest pace in almost four years, strengthening the case for the Federal Reserve to raise interest rates this year.

The CPI has remained above 3 percent for 11 consecutive months and was also higher than the national figure for 37 months in a row.

Inflation continued to edge higher in January, lifted by higher costs for housing, gasoline and medical services.

Stack of coins falling over
GETTYInvestec predicts inflation will notch up to 1.8 per cent in January

United Kingdom inflation picked up less than economists precited last month as clothing-store discounts kept the rate from achieving the BOE's target.

"Both headline and core WPI inflation have risen steadily over the last 18 months, led by moderating deflation in global metals, fuel and other commodity prices", he said in his research report.

Inflation fell to 1.4 percent in January from 1.7 percent in December.

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"Retail sales seemed to have been boosted by higher prices rather than an increase in the real consumption", said Shin Kadota, senior forex strategist at Barclays.

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Higher prices for gasoline and shelter are a key driver of the western states' price gains over the past year, the BLS report says. The Fed targets inflation at 2 percent a year, enough to keep prices relatively stable while encouraging economic activity. This was helped by a substantial price fall in onions, which stood at (-) 28.86 percent.

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"We don't expect such high rates of inflation to last", Capital Economics China economist Julian Evans-Pritchard said in a note.

The food index decreased by 0.6 percent in December. The shelter index rose 0.2 percent, a smaller increase than in recent months. Under manufactured products, nearly all categories recorded inflation in January, with some significant increases in case of food products (10.5 per cent), beverages, tobacco & tobacco products (7.7 per cent) and basic metals, alloys & metal products (7.97 per cent). PNC Bank economists Gush Faucher says the gain is partly due to an improving labor market with "more jobs and rising wages" as workers become more scarce. Moreover, much of the short-term increase in prices can be attributed directly to rising energy costs, which are infamously volatile.

The Fed's inflation target of 2 per cent, a goal it has repeatedly failed to hit since the aftermath of the 2008-09 financial crisis. This was the sharpest year-on-year rise in factory gate prices since January 2012.

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