Shoppers at Cologne’s main shopping street Hohe Strasse in Cologne, Germany. Reuters
Germany’s annual consumer price inflation accelerated to a fresh 13-year high in August, data showed on Monday, underlining growing price pressures as Europe’s largest economy recovers from the pandemic and companies struggle with supply shortages.
Consumer prices, harmonised to make them comparable with inflation data from other European Union countries (HICP), rose 3.4% compared with 3.1% in July, preliminary figures from the Federal Statistics Office showed.
The August reading was in line with a Reuters poll and marked the highest since July 2008, when the harmonised inflation rate also hit 3.4%.
The national inflation rate (CPI) even soared to 3.9% in August, hitting its highest since December 1993 when the economy boomed following German reunification.
“This is due to higher energy and food prices, while the core inflation probably even fell slightly form 2.9% to 2.8%,” Commerzbank analyst Ralph Solveen said.
Germany’s preliminary consumer price figures do not include values for core inflation.
LBBW economist Elmar Voelker said the inflation rate would rise further in the coming months, pointing to special factors and base effects from a temporary reduction in VAT rates in the second half of 2020 that affected comparisons. “From the beginning of 2022, price pressures ... will probably ebb, but the exciting question will be how quickly and how strong this weakening will be,” Voelker added.
Recent hikes in producer and import prices could be an early indication that increased inflation rates will ultimately be more persistent at the consumer level than previously thought.
“In this case, the debate within the European Central Bank, which is currently still primarily centered around the risk of low inflation, could take on a new direction,” Voelker said.
German central bank chief Jens Weidmann has said he is worried about the prospect of the ECB’s low-interest-rate environment being extended for too long.
Weidmann said last month his advisers anticipated inflation nearing 5% in Germany later this year.
Data released earlier on Monday showed German inflation outpaced wage growth in the second quarter as rising price pressures caused by the economic recovery and supply bottlenecks in manufacturing reduced the spending power of consumers.
The latest data suggests wages will not keep up with inflation also for the rest of the year. This means there are no signs yet of a wage-price spiral which is seen as a prerequisite for inflation to remain at an elevated level in the medium term.
In Spain, EU-harmonised consumer prices rose 3.3% year-on-year in August from 2.9% in July, separate data from the National Statistics Institute (INE) showed.
The German and Spanish figures suggest that euro zone inflation, due on Tuesday, has strengthened further in August.
A Reuters poll of analysts predicts euro zone inflation (HICP) to jump to 2.7% from 2.2% in the previous month.
“We think euro zone inflation will remain high this year, peaking at close to 3% in Q4, before returning to 1.5% next year,” Oxford Economics analyst Daniela Ordonez said.
The ECB, which next meets on Sept. 9, will have to decide whether to maintain an elevated volume of bond purchases or allow them to decline, given a drop in yields and a weakening of the euro since the last policy meeting.
Euro zone bond yields held near one-month highs on Monday, showing little reaction as German inflation rose to a fresh 13-year peak.
“The lack of reaction is due to the fact that the bond market reads these figures as transitory,” said Althea Spinozzi, fixed income strategist at Saxo Bank.
The rise in German annual inflation was mainly driven by base effects such as a temporary reduction in value added tax last year, she added.
“Monthly figures are within expectations and moderate,” Spinozzi added, noting that the monthly rise in prices was the lowest since November 2020, suggesting inflation may be cooling.
Yields moved only marginally on both sides of the Atlantic.
Markets were calm in the aftermath of US Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell’s speech on Friday, which traders took to suggest a tapering of stimulus measures was unlikely until later in the year, sending U.S. Treasury yields falling.
Earlier on Monday, Spanish inflation came in at 3.3% year-on-year, far above the 2.9% and 0.1% expected by a Reuters poll.
Other data showed euro zone economic sentiment dipped from record highs in August, though selling price expectations in industry hit a record in August, heralding likely future inflationary pressures.
Business activity in the eurozone shot ahead at its fastest rate in 21 years in July, a closely watched survey said on Friday, as the economy went into full throttle with loosened Covid-19 restrictions.
German business morale fell to its lowest level since November 2014 in June, a survey showed on Monday, adding weight to expectations that Europe’s largest economy contracted in the second quarter.
Inflation in Europe’s largest economy Germany fell back sharply in May, official data showed, returning to sluggish levels after a spike related to the Easter holiday. Price growth stood at 1.4 per cent year-on-year,
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