Year-long wage squeeze nearing an end

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The UK rate of inflation fell back by more than expected in March, helping to reduce the financial pressures on households and making a May rate rise less likely.

Average wages excluding bonuses were up by 2.8% in the three months to the end of February, growing at a faster rate than CPI inflation for the first time in a year.

Output price inflation slowed to 2.4 percent in March from 2.6 percent in February.

"While this print is unlikely to dissuade the Bank of England from hiking next month - a rate increase is still expected - it will likely force the market to reconsider whether the United Kingdom will remain an "inflation outlier", and could lead to a repricing of when they hike next, weighing on the pound", he added.

Inflation jumped in Britain after June 2016's vote to leave the European Union hammered the value of the pound and pushed up the cost of imports.

Inflation has fell below expectations in March, throwing doubt on whether the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month.

What's this? is a calculation of how fast prices are rising.

"At the same time the Bank would dearly love some more firepower to counter the next economic downturn, whenever that may be".

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The British currency GBP=D3 slid 0.8 percent to $1.4173 in London trading, its lowest since last Thursday and a striking reversal from Tuesday climb to $1.4377, its strongest since the Brexit referendum.

Based on the ONS's preferred CPIH measure of inflation, which takes more housing costs into account than the CPI used by the BoE and government, pay growth edged ahead of inflation for the first time in nearly a year.

In response Peter Dowd, Labour’s shadow chief secretary to the Treasury,  said the figures are still higher than the Bank of England’s target.

"Higher wages mean more money chasing the same amount of goods and services, which could lead to higher prices", Mr Brettell said.

However, the cost of oil and fats surged 6.7 per cent in March, past the 2.8 per cent rise a year ago, with margarine applying notable upward pressure.

In February, the Bank of England had projected inflation to remain close to 3 percent in the first quarter and signaled somewhat earlier- and deeper-than-expected rate hikes.

The largest downward pressure on the CPI figure in March came from footwear and clothing, having risen by just 0.7% on a monthly basis compared with 2% over the same period in 2017.

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