UK consumer prices flat for second straight month in March

Energy Associated Press

The U.K. has narrowly avoided a drop in consumer prices, easing concerns of a so-called deflationary spiral that can hurt the economy.

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Official figures Tuesday show that annual consumer price inflation in the U.K. was flat for the second straight month in March.

Many in the financial markets were predicting a negative inflation rate in the Office for National Statistics' report. An extended drop in prices can weigh on an economy if consumers delay spending on big-ticket items in hopes of bargains down the line or businesses fail to innovate and invest amid falling profits.

But many economists think the current subdued inflation environment is a boon to consumers as it's largely due to the near 50 percent fall in crude oil prices in less than a year.