UK inflation hits 41-year high; soaring prices affect European countries


LONDON — Inflation in the UK rose more than expected in October, reaching 11.1 percent, its highest level since 1981.

This compared to 10.1 percent inflation in September, the Office for National Statistics said on Wednesday. The rise was mostly fueled by soaring electricity and gas prices, up 24 per cent year-on-year despite a government cap, and by food prices, up 16.4 percent.

In the eurozone, annual inflation is expected to have hit a new record high of 10.7 percent in October, up from 9.9 percent in September, according to the latest estimate of the bloc’s statistics body Eurostat.

More than half of the eurozone countries recorded double-digit inflation rates in October, including Germany (11.6 percent), Belgium (13.1 percent) and the Netherlands (16.8 percent). France showed the lowest rate, at 7.1 percent.

Italy saw the biggest monthly increase in prices, with inflation jumping from 9.4 percent in September to 12.8 percent in October.

Energy prices were again the main drivers of eurozone inflation, with a 41.9 percent year-on-year rise, compared with 40.7 percent in September and 38.6 percent in August.

Every corner of the continent is facing rising prices, with Europe’s expected economic bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic being hampered by a number of factors.

Here is a look at the inflation rate in each country in Europe:

The Baltic countries continue to be the hardest hit. Estonia in particular is experiencing the highest levels of inflation in the eurozone, at 22.4 percent in October compared to 6.8 percent a year ago.

But Estonians can breathe a very small sigh of relief this month, as inflation slightly eased compared with September, when it reached 24.1 percent, and August, when it was at 25.2 percent.

Inflation in Lithuania also hit 22.0 percent, while in Latvia it dipped slightly to 21.8 percent.

The eurozone’s inflation is up from 7.4 percent in April, as Europeans continue to see soaring energy and food prices fuelled in part by Russia’s war in Ukraine

Following in the footsteps of its counterparts in other parts of the world, in July the European Central Bank (ECB) raised interest rates for the first time in 11 years by a larger-than-expected amount, as it targets stubbornly high inflation.

This was followed by another record rate hike in September, raising new questions about whether the rush to make credit more expensive and keep inflation in check will plunge major economies into recession.

On Oct. 27, the ECB raised interest rates again, hiking its deposit rate by a further 75 basis points to 1.5 percent — the highest rate in more than a decade.

What’s causing these inflation rates?

Europe and much of the wider world were already being hit with soaring energy prices — which contribute to inflation — before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.

The conflict has exacerbated the energy crisis by fuelling global worries it may lead to an interruption of oil or natural gas supplies from Russia. Moscow said in September it would not fully resume its gas supplies to Europe until the West lifts its sanctions.

Russia typically supplies about 40 percent of Europe’s natural gas.

The prices of many commodities — crucially including food — have also been rising ever since COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns were first introduced two years ago, straining global supply chains, leaving crops to rot, and causing panic-buying in supermarkets.

The war in Ukraine again dramatically worsened the outlook, as Russia and Ukraine account for nearly a third of global wheat and barley, and two-thirds of the world’s exports of sunflower oil used for cooking. Ukraine is also the world’s fourth-biggest exporter of corn. — Euronews

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