Bank of England officials said low oil prices and subdued wage growth will keep a lid on inflation as they left their key interest rate at a record low. In the minutes of its December meeting, the Monetary Policy Committee weighed “robust growth” in spending against weak overseas demand and expressed concern over the feeble impetus for prices. It said eight of the nine-member panel voted to leave the benchmark rate at 0.5 percent this month, with Ian McCafferty maintaining his call for a 25 basis-point increase. “There would need to be a sustained firming in domestic cost pressures, compared with current rates,” to push inflation back to the 2 percent target, officials said. “The price of oil had fallen markedly again, increasing the likelihood that headline inflation rates would remain subdued, and nominal-wage growth had leveled off.”
Households paid out less for gas and electricity last year despite rising prices, while otherwise mainly increasing their spending in a sign of consumer confidence, according to latest figures. Families spent 10p a week less on electricity and 30p less on gas in 2014, even though the price of both increased, mainly because of warmer weather and better home insulation, according to the Family Spending report from the Office for National Statistics. One of the biggest falls in spending over the last 15 years has been on cigarettes, with the average household now spending £3.40 a week - down from £3.50 in 2013 and £4 in 2012 - and only 800 of the 5,130 households in the survey buying any at all.
Petrol prices have fallen for a fourth consecutive month, according to new data. The average price of unleaded at the end of October was 107.8p, compared to 109.5p at the start of the month, the RAC Fuel Watch found. This is equivalent to a saving of 90p on the cost of filling up an average 55-litre family car.
Saudi Arabia’s oil minister said the country is looking at raising domestic energy prices. Ali al-Naimi made the announcement in a move which could help reduce a lavish system of subsidies which has been blamed for waste and surging fuel consumption.
Low oil and gas prices steered Aberdeen hotels to double-digit percentage falls in both occupancy and revenue for the second month on the trot, a new report says. And there is uncertainty as to whether hotel prices will be ratcheted up for next month’s Offshore Europe conference, a common practice in the Granite City. Aberdeen hotel rooms generated £52.45 a night on average in May, down an alarming 30% year-on-year, according to accountancy network BDO’s survey of three and four star establishments. Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness all experienced strong increases in revenue, though the Scottish capital was the only location to enjoy a rise in occupancy.
Suffering motorists are falling foul of oil company greed as petrol prices start to shoot up again, the AA has said. Service stations were slow to lower prices when world oil prices were falling but have been quick to raise them once the global price started to recover, AA president Edmund King said. Earlier this year it looked as if a litre of petrol could dip below the £1 mark.
The energy market regulator, Ofgem, has been sharply criticised by MPs for failing to ensure consumers are getting the best value for money. The Commons Energy and Climate Change Committee said new price caps intended to curb the costs of distributing and transmitting gas and electricity were too generous while performance targets were too low. Committee chairman Tim Yeo said a warning by Ofgem chief executive Dermot Nolan that it could be eight years before it was clear whether the new system was delivering value for money was too long for consumers to wait. The so-called “network costs” currently account for around 23% of a dual fuel (gas and electricity) bill.
Falling crude prices are a “shot in the arm” for many global economies, an investment trust chief said yesterday. Andrew Bell, chief executive of the Chelmsford-based Witan Investment Trust was among a string of bosses delivering their views on the oil price plunge on behalf of a group representing UK investment trusts responsible for assets worth about £122billion. He said: “The fall in the oil price is a shot in the arm for oil consuming economies, despite the so far rather sulky response of equity markets.
Petrol firms and supermarkets will be pressed by the Government to pass on the benefit of falling oil prices to customers filling up at the pumps. Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander will demand an assurance from fuel companies and distributors that they are doing all they can to pass on the price cuts to motorists. Mr Alexander will use a speech in Aberdeen to warn people would "rightly be angry" if they felt prices were not coming down as much as they should.