The Bank of England’s assertion that this period of high inflation would prove transitory is being severely tested. The consumer prices index rose by 6.2pc in the year to February 2022, compared with 5.5pc in January. Inflation has now been above the Bank’s 2pc target for seven consecutive months.
Of course, the war in Ukraine is likely to add to the upward pressure on inflation over the coming months. Commodity prices in particular have surged following Russia’s invasion. Alongside supply bottlenecks and the impact of a global economic recovery from the pandemic, they have contributed to continued increases in inflation expectations for the remainder of this year.
Indeed, the Bank of England now expects inflation to reach about 8pc soon.
In Questor’s view, predictions about the future rate of inflation can only ever offer very limited insights for investors. As recent months have shown, unforeseen events inevitably occur that can cause forecasts to be proved wholly inaccurate.
However, it seems increasingly likely that inflation will remain substantially above the Bank of England’s 2pc target for a sustained period. Although interest rates have been raised at each of the three most recent meetings of the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, the appetite for further increases could be limited by the prospect of a weakening economic outlook.
Moreover, prolonged levels of high inflation can gradually become a self-fulfilling prophecy as consumers spend more and save less in anticipation of further price rises.
So far, the four commodity investments in Questor’s Wealth Preserver portfolio have made the largest contribution to our total return. They have gained 28pc on average since their addition to the portfolio in October last year and remain key holdings in our attempts to combat rapid price rises.