Why the World Is Watching US Interest Rates

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The Federal Reserve uses higher rates to curb inflation and has said it expects to raise rates this year.

The central bank's last set of economic projections released in December showed policymakers on average expected three rate increases this year, matching the number of rate hikes in 2017.

The data jibe with a February 2 Labor Department report which showed that US average hourly earnings rose 2.9 percent from a year earlier in January, marking the fastest pace of the expansion. Such increases in bond rates would provide more investment competition to stocks, after years of low yields made equities comparatively more desirable.

Sterling strengthened today as data showed United Kingdom inflation unexpectedly stayed close to its highest levels in six years in January.

All relies on the Consumer Price Index report that will be revealed today, on Wednesday.

United Kingdom inflation had hit its highest since March 2012 in November at 3.1%. The index for all items less food and energy rose 1.8% over the past year, while the energy index increased 5.5% and the food index advanced 1.7%.

Consumer prices rose more than expected in January, a sign that inflation could be set to return as a feature of the USA economy.

The Retail Prices Index (RPI), a separate measure of inflation, edged lower to 4.0% last month from 4.1% in December.

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It leaves more goods being sold at full prices, and leading to upward pressure from the clothing category in January.

US retail sales dropped 0.3 percent in January, losing anticipated gains from December 2017.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown (Frankfurt: DMB.F - news), said following the latest inflation: "Inflation's now been above target for 12 straight months".

"The bank's rhetoric echoed that of September's meeting minutes, which preceded last November's rate hike, and it now looks like the next rise may well happen in May".

The highest increases were recorded in prices of fuel and lubricants for personal transport and transport equipment, vehicle spare parts, accommodation services, maintenance and fix of personal transport equipment, appliances articles and products for personal care.

As per Use-based classification, primary goods growth rates in December 2017 over December 2016 were at 3.7%.

U.S. inflation figures showed headline CPI remained constant in January at 2.1% year on year, ahead for forecasts of 1.9%.

United Kingdom manufacturers increased the prices they charged by 2.8%, less than the consensus forecast of 3% and the smallest increase since November 2016.

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