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Price pressures hit decade high

Prices of manufacturing supplies are climbing at their fastest rate in more than a decade according to a new report that intensifies the Bank of England's interest-rates quandary.

The Input Price Index last month jumped 3.6 points to 76.3 – athe second-highest result on record and the highest since April 1995.

The index, calculated by the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply and NTC Economics, was pushed up by higher oil prices impacting on the cost of transportation, energy and oil by-products used in chemicals and plastic.

It will intensify the pressure on the Monetary Policy Committee, which meets next week, as it seeks to stoke Britain's cooling economy and housing market without losing control of inflation.

NTC economist Rob Dobson said that in spite of inflationary pressures, weaker demand and slower global economic growth pointed to further “loosening” of monetary conditions.

The headline Purchasing Managers' Index, which measures whether manufacturing is expanding or contracting, was unchanged from February at 51.3 – below its long-term average of 51.6. A measure below 50 indicates manufacturing is contracting.

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