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Food prices are an inflation concern now, employment steady

US and Australia jobless claims drop slightly

UK CPI at 4.2% in Dec 2023, food drives inflation. US unemployment claims drop. Retail sales rise 0.6% to $709.9B. Australia’s job market stable

United Kingdom:

CPI prices with food included

The UK’s Office for National Statistics reports that the Consumer Prices Index including owner occupiers’ housing costs (CPIH) remained at 4.2% in the 12 months to December 2023, mirroring November’s rate. The monthly increase in CPIH was 0.4% in December, identical to the previous year. The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) rose from 3.9% in November to 4.0% in December, marking the first increase since February 2023. Noteworthy was the largest upward contribution to the inflation rates, driven by alcohol and tobacco, while the largest downward contribution came from food and non-alcoholic beverages.

Core CPI without the food prices

The Core CPIH and Core CPI, excluding energy, food, alcohol, and tobacco, remained steady at 5.2% and 5.1% in the 12 months to December 2023, respectively. The annual rate of CPI goods slowed to 1.9%, while services increased from 6.3% to 6.4%.

Price movers

In terms of notable price movements, the OOH component of CPIH rose by 5.3%, while the overall annual inflation rate saw a slight increase from 4.0% in November to 4.2% in December.

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United States:

In the labor market, the U.S. Unemployment Insurance Weekly Claims report shows a decrease of 16,000 in seasonally adjusted initial claims for the week ending January 13, reaching the lowest level since September 24, 2022. The insured unemployment rate remained unchanged at 1.2%, with a decrease of 26,000 in insured unemployment claims.

Retail and food services

The U.S. Census Bureau’s advance estimates for retail and food services sales in December 2023 revealed a 0.6% increase, reaching $709.9 billion. This growth indicates a 5.6% rise compared to December 2022. For the entire year of 2023, total sales were up by 3.2%. Retail trade sales were 4.8% higher than the previous year, with nonstore retailers and food services and drinking places leading the way at 9.7% and 11.1% growth, respectively.


Australia’s Labour Force data for December 2023 indicates stability in trend unemployment rates at 3.8% and 3.9% in seasonally adjusted terms. The participation rate remains at 67.0% in trend and drops to 66.8% seasonally adjusted. Employment increased by 18,800 in trend terms, reaching 14,246,000, while in seasonally adjusted terms, there was a decrease of 65,100, totaling 14,201,100. Full-time employment decreased by 106,600, while part-time employment increased by 41,400.

Some takeaway from this

The UK and U.S. share a common theme of rising inflation, with both nations experiencing increases in the annual Consumer Prices Index. In the UK, alcohol and tobacco contributed significantly, while the U.S. saw a notable boost in retail and food services sales. In contrast, Australia maintains stable unemployment rates, showcasing a resilient labor market.

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