We start the day with yet another reminder of the cost-of-living crisis facing British households, as the latest inflation figures came in even higher than expected.
The consumer price index jumped to 6.2pc in February – a fresh 30-year high. That’s up from 5.5pc the previous month and ahead of forecasts of 6pc.
Housing and household services were the biggest drivers of price rises, reflecting the recent surge in energy bills. Transport costs – primarily fuel and second-hand cars – also rose sharply.
The figures come ahead of Rishi Sunak’s Spring Statement later today. Borrowing figures show the Chancellor has some wriggle room to play with, and he’s facing calls to use this money to ease the strain on household finances.
5 things to start your day
1) Planning shake-up opens door to hundreds of new wind farms Proposals will make it far harder for public to object
2) Housebuilders hit back at Michael Gove’s claim they are a ‘cartel’ Industry calls minister’s comments ‘worrying’ as they warn botched reforms could push firms out of business
3) The war to win over ethical investors in Shell’s North Sea oil revolution As the world shifted towards renewables, the City has also increasingly focusing on ethical investing
4) How Gazprom silently got its hooks into British heavy industry Taxpayers risk paying a huge price to take back Russia’s share of UK energy market
5) P&O Ferries denies breaking the law or deploying taser-trained security guards Kwasi Kwarteng orders inquiry into reports that new agency staff will be paid below minimum wage
What happened overnight
Asian markets extended gains on Wednesday, tracking a rally in New York. Tokyo jumped more than 2pc and Hong Kong continued to bask in a tech rally fuelled by China’s pledge of support for markets. Shanghai, Seoul, Sydney, Singapore, Taipei and Jakarta were also on the front foot, though Manila and Wellington dipped.
Coming up today
- Corporate: Boot (Henry), Dignity, Pendragon, Petrofac, Saga, SigmaRoc, Ultra Electronics (full-year); Halma (trading update)
- Economics: Inflation, spring statement, Andrew Bailey at BIS Innovation summit (UK), consumer confidence (eurozone)