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Falling Petrol Prices Drive First Drop in UK Inflation Since Sept

Tuesday, 21 May 2013 | 4:40 AM ET
Shannon Fagan | The Image Bank | Getty Images

British consumer price inflation fell last month for the first time since September, giving incoming Bank of England governor Mark Carney more leeway to support the economy should the recovery weaken.

Inflation eased to 2.4 percent in April from 2.8 percent in March, official data showed on Tuesday, a better reading that the 2.6 percent rate economists had forecast.

(Read More: High Inflation a 'Permanent Fixture' in the UK: Economists)

The main downward thrust came from petrol and diesel, which accounted for almost half the drop in the annual rate.

Inflation has been above the Bank of England's 2 percent target since the end of 2009 but the recent weakness in commodity prices has made policymakers more confident it will ease over the next two years.

(Read More: Short Story: Sterling Expected to Fall Further)

Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy components, dropped to 2.0 percent in April, the lowest since November 2009.

Separate data on producer prices mirrored the picture of easing price pressures. Annual factory gate inflation slowed to 1.1 percent in April from 1.9 percent in March, a much bigger drop than analysts had forecast.

Carney, currently head of Canada's central bank, replaces Mervyn King at the helm of the Bank of England in July. He has a reputation for monetary activism and has previously said he wants Britain's recovery to achieve "escape velocity".

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