Prickly problem of porcine sex life

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The Independent Online
The fact that sows dislike mating in very hot weather poses one of the few threats of rising prices during the next few months, writes Diane Coyle.

The current piglet shortage, along with Japan's new taste for bacon, has already added 6 pence to the price of a pound of Danish back bacon and 4 pence a pound to British bacon since November. More increases are on the way - although the Central Statistical Office could offer no predictions yesterday about porcine sexual habits.

Past increases in the cost of metals are still working their way along the price chain. The price of tinned goods has already increased. It will be the turn of aerosol dispensers next. Rises of 5-10 pence in the price of hairspray, shaving foam and body sprays are likely. These aside, the outlook for inflation in the short-term is extraordinarily benign.

The latest mortgage rate reductions will help trim the headline inflation rate again in February. Last month's reductions explained about a third of the drop in the RPI.

The battle on the forecourts of petrol stations has reduced prices by 4-5 pence a litre. This could reduce the headline inflation rate by as much as 0.5 per cent.

The new outbreak of supermarket price war will more than offset small increases in some food costs. Supplies of Spanish oranges and South African grapes have been hit by bad weather, while increases in cheese and bread prices have been announced. But the clash of the supermarket titans will help keep inflation falling.

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