British inflation drops to lowest level in year

Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May attends a press conference in 10 Downing Street London

UK labour market - Office for National Statistics

These numbers probably won't stop the Bank of England from raising rates next month, but sharply lower inflation eases the upward pressure.

The Office for National Statistics says that average weekly earnings in the three months to February rose 2.8 percent from the year before, ahead of the 2.7 percent inflation recorded during the month. It estimates that United Kingdom savers have seen the purchasing power of their savings plunge by £30.3 billion as inflation has outstripped the interest they can earn on money in the bank. These factors may explain, partially at least, whilst wage growth is not stronger since a smaller pool of potential employees should mean that employers have to offer better terms and conditions to attract the staff that they need. The jobless rate fell to 4.2 per cent, the lowest since 1975 and below the BOE's estimate of the equilibrium rate.

Inflation fell in March in a further boost to British households who have suffered a year of real wage falls, but the Bank of England's job may have become trickier, according to economists.

It is the first time wages have been rising faster than prices since January 2017.

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"Day-by-day we are helping people turn their lives around by getting into employment".

TUC general secretary Frances O'Grady said: "Unions have negotiated pay rises for workers across the United Kingdom, from the counters at McDonald's to the factory floor at Ford".

The slowdown was largely driven by the weak growth in women's clothing cost.

"At the same time the Bank would dearly love some more firepower to counter the next economic downturn, whenever that may be. Workers are £14 a week worse off than they were in 2007 - with pay packets not expected to return to their pre-crisis level until 2025".

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The Bank of England has hinted that it could increase its main interest rate by a quarter-point to 0.75 percent at its next policy meeting on May 10.

"This won't go unnoticed by the MPC, which since the summer has taken to citing this growth rate in its communications", said Samuel Tombs of Pantheon Macroeconomics.

Philip Smeaton, chief investment officer at wealth manager Sanlam said the brightening outlook for the United Kingdom economy should not tempt the Bank of England to increase interest rates. "Markets are settling down now and we expect the currency to be rangebound before May's rate hike", said ING forex strategist Viraj Patel.

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