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The Financial Times
As Mr Osborne prepares to defend his financial policies in Parliament today in the face of criticism from members of his own Conservative party, the latest government borrowing figures have not helped his case. Public sector net borrowing, excluding taxpayer-backed banks, was higher than expected last month, at £7.1bn compared to economists’ forecasts of borrowing of £5.9bn. Although a surplus in January – the month when most Britons who pay tax via the self-assessment process settle their bills – was higher than originally estimated, at £13.8bn compared to £11.2bn, a number of economists have cast doubt over whether the chancellor will still meet his borrowing forecast for this year, despite revising it lower in last week’s Budget in a show of confidence. Last week, the borrowing forecast was lowered to £72.2bn from a previous forecast of £73.5bn but today’s figures published by the Office for National Statistics show that borrowing so far this fiscal year (April 2015 to February) is £70.7bn.
The Daily Telegraph
Oil prices have recovered by 50pc in the last two months, capping a storming reversal of fortunes and raising hopes the world’s worst price rout is finally over. Brent crude hit $41.73 in Tuesday’s trading, as speculation grew over an imminent supply freeze led by giant producer Saudi Arabia after months of diplomatic talks. Oil had collapsed to a 12-year low of $27.50 per barrel on January 20, when bearish sentiment gripped the world’s over-supplied markets.
Nine examples of Jaguar’s XKSS, the road version of the Le Mans-winning D-type, are being built to replace those destroyed during a fire at the factory after only 18 of 25 had been built. Jaguar has announced that it will build nine new examples of its famed XKSS sports car produced in 1957, each costing in excess of £1 million.
George Osborne’s plan to cut the budget deficit remained off-track in February after self-assessment tax receipts failed to repeat last year’s bounce. Official figures showed that borrowing is likely to be higher in this financial year than in 2014-15, in breach of the chancellor’s fiscal rule that the annual deficit should fall in each year of parliament. But inflation remained subdued at 0.3% for the year to February, helping to underpin forecasts for economic growth that depend on modest increases in consumer prices relative to wages over the next four years.
Inflation remained at 0.3% last month as the falling cost of second-hand cars was offset by rising food prices, according to official figures. The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the cost of second-hand cars fell 5.6% year on year in February, while motorbikes and bicycles also dropped 3.6% over the same period.
The Daily Express
Over five million cars are expected on the UK’s roads on Good Friday as the nation’s motorists take some time off over the bank holiday. Data from RAC Traffic Watch suggests that there could be as many as 16.8m car journeys over the long weekend, as many Brits visit family and friends. Other predictions for traffic volume (based on a survey of over 1,500 motorists) are that there will be 3.3m leisure trips on Thursday (when traffic will peak at 5-6pm), 3.9m on Saturday (peaking at noon), 4.2m on Easter Sunday (peaking at noon again) and 3.6m on Easter Monday (when noon will also see peak traffic).
Embattled German auto maker Volkswagen last month launched a recall of a number of its new Passat cars in Europe owing to a potential electrical fault, a spokesman told AFP on Tuesday. The recall affected the B8 Passat mode, the spokesman said, without specifying the number of vehicles involved.