Market report

Hunt in cost of living talks | Food inflation eases


supermarket food

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will today urge consumer watchdogs to be do more to help reduce prices as concerns grow that firms are profiteering on the back of rampant inflation.

Mr Hunt will meet the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), and the regulators for the energy, water and communications sectors.

The meeting comes after the Bank of England suggested some retailers were hiking prices or failing to pass on lower costs to consumers to boost their profits – known as “greedflation”.

Retailers have already been warned by Downing Street about pricing “responsibly and fairly”, saying household weekly shopping bills had “gone up far too much in the past few months”.

Mr Hunt said talks with the food industry were under way about “potential measures to ease the pressure on consumers”.

Traders were encouraged by a slowing in shop price inflation and news that China is on course to hits its 5% economic growth target.

Shop price inflation fell in June, with price cuts for staples such as milk and eggs easing some pressure on the consumer, figures released on Tuesday showed.

According to the British Retail Consortium-NielsenIQ tracker, annual shop price inflation in the UK eased to 8.4% in June, from 9% in May, and below the three-month average inflation rate of 8.7%.

Food inflation edged back to 14.6%, from 15.4% with fresh food inflation falling to 15.7% from 17.2%. Ambient food inflation decelerated slightly to 13.0% from 13.1%.

China is hopeful of achieving its 5% target for economic growth in 2023 set by Beijing earlier this year, according to Premier Li Qianq.

“For the whole year, we are expected to achieve the target of about five percent economic growth set at the beginning of this year,” Li said as he opened a meeting of global political and business leaders in northern China.

Shares in London’s top index were largely unchanged, the FTSE gaining just 7.88 points at 7,461.46.

JD Sports

Leisurewear retailer JD Sports Fashion has stuck to its annual guidance despite a slowing of sales growth in May and softening in the US market.

In an update the company, which includes Scottish chain Tiso, said it still expected full-year profit to pass £1bn after positive trading in all regions during May.

Overall growth in organic sales came in at about 8%, compared with 15% in the first three months of the year.

“This moderation in the growth was in line with management expectations and reflects tougher comparatives in the prior year as the supply chain normalised and the availability of product improved,” it added.

The group’s UK, Europe and Asia Pacific businesses were also performing well, partly offset by operations in North America which were “experiencing some softening in trade consistent with other businesses in the sector”.

Global markets

The Dow Jones Industrial Average closed up 0.6%, the S&P 500 up 1.2% and the Nasdaq Composite up 1.7%.

Two sets of better-than-expected economic data improved the mood, with US consumer confidence and new home sales both surprising on the upside.

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