UK - Higher pension contributions - due in part to increasing longevity - are starting to hit companies' costs, says the Bank of England.

The central bank noted in its latest quarterly Inflation Report that firms have faced "increasing cost pressures in recent years". 

It said: "Higher energy and import prices have raised the cost of firms' non-labour inputs. 

"And many firms with defined-benefit pension schemes have had to increase their pension contributions.  While some of these contributions reflect funding of past deficits, others are an ongoing labour cost related in part to increased life expectancy. 

"It seems likely that businesses have been pushing down on wage growth to offset part of the rise in their non-wage costs."

"The costs of imported and energy-intensive inputs have risen since 2004, and pension obligations have increased."

The report also said the influence of pension funds on interest rates may have returned.

It said: "Previous reports have suggested a number of potential reasons for the decline in long-term real interest rates in recent years, such as greater risk appetite and stronger demand for long-dated government bonds by pension funds. 

"Some of these factors could have reasserted themselves after a temporary unwinding earlier in the year."