The UK consumer price inflation (CPI) climbed slightly more than expected in March on an annual basis, as it reached its strongest level since December 2014, data released on Tuesday (12 April) by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed. UK CPI rose by 0.5% year-on-year in March up from the 0.3% figure recorded in February and coming in slightly above the 0.4% analysts expected.
The report added said increases in air fares and clothing prices were the main contributors to the increase in the rate between February and March. However, that was partially offset by a fall in food prices and a smaller rise in petrol prices than a year ago.
On a month-on-month basis, CPI advanced by 0.4% in March, compared with expectations for a 0.3% gain and higher than the 0.2% advance registered in February.
However, while the reading marked the fifth consecutive month inflation has been in positive territory, the figures are still far below the Bank of England's target of 2%.
"Although inflation rose by more than expected, the overall trend remains weak, and places little pressure on the Monetary Policy Committee," said Ben Brettell, senior economist, Hargreaves Lansdown.
"Core inflation, which strips out volatile components like food and energy, rose to 1.5% in March, but this is still significantly below the Bank's 2% CPI target. The Bank said in February it expected inflation to undershoot the target until 2018.
"Naturally policymakers will need to remain mindful of the risk that inflation overshoots at some point."
The Bank of England will announce its latest decision on interest rates on Thursday 14 April.