Retail prices rose by 2.4 per cent in the year to February, down from 2.5 per cent in the year to January, according to the Central Statistical Office. However, some economists predicted that retailers would not be able to make higher prices stick.
The City had expected inflation to fall to 2.2 per cent and the stock market concluded that Kenneth Clarke, the Chancellor, would find it difficult to justify another cut in interest rates to offset next month's tax increases. The FT-SE index of 100 leading London shares closed 46.2 down on the day at 3,155.3.
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