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UK inflation rate leaps to 2.3%
Inflation, as measured by the ONS’ Consumer Prices Index, jumped to 2.3% in February – up from 1.8% in January. The rate is the highest since September 2013 and above the 2% target the Bank of England is charged with keeping inflation at. Rising fuel and food prices were the main factors pushing inflation higher. The Brexit vote last June prompted a steep fall in the value of the pound, making imported goods more expensive. The Bank of England has said it expects inflation will peak at 2.8% next year.
Higher fuel prices take toll on retail sales
UK retail sales posted a modest 1.4% rise in February compared with the previous month, but higher fuel prices have begun to hit pockets. Sales volumes fell by 1.4% for the three months to February, a sharper slide than the 0.5% decline for the three months to January. That was the biggest fall recorded by the Office for National Statistics since March 2010. Fuel prices soared by 18.7% in February compared with the same month last year. Petrol cost an average of 120p a litre in February, with diesel 3p more, according to ONS figures.
Government borrowing falls in February
Government borrowing fell last month to its lowest amount for February in 10 years, according to official figures. Borrowing, excluding state-owned banks, was £1.8bn, down from £4.6bn a year earlier, the ONS said. In the financial year-to-date, borrowing has fallen by £19.9bn from last year to £47.8bn.
Fiat Chrysler diesel emissions investigated in France
French prosecutors have opened an investigation into claims Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) broke diesel emissions tests. Industry regulators in the country have been looking into whether some FCA cars exceeded emissions limits. FCA, already facing probes in the UK and US, said it noted the prosecutor’s decision to look into “certain alleged consumer protection violations”, but added that its diesel cars fully complied with emissions rules.
Do not let Brexit ruin car industry, urges chair of London Taxi Company
The chair of the company behind the first new car plant in Britain for more than a decade has urged the UK and European governments not let Brexit ruin the country’s automotive industry. Carl-Peter Forster was speaking as the London Taxi Company (LTC), the maker of London’s trademark black cabs, officially opened a factory in Coventry to build electric taxis. The plant will create more than 1,000 jobs and is funded with investment worth £325m from the Chinese car company Geely, which owns LTC.
BMW challenges Mercedes with new model offensive
BMW aims to wrestle back the European crown from Mercedes-Benz, vowing to become the “number one” luxury car brand in Europe by the end of the year. Chief executive Harald Krüger promised the “biggest model offensive ever” from the German premium marque, after the group slipped behind its Daimler-owned arch-rival during 2016. The launch of 40 new or refreshed vehicles before the end of 2018 comes as BMW Group, which also owns the Mini and Rolls-Royce brands, said it aims to increase profits, sales and number of cars sold this year.
Optimism in UK manufacturing hits highest level since 1995
Optimism among British manufacturers has reached its highest level since John Major was prime minister, according to the latest industrial trends survey from the CBI lobbying group. Manufacturers are expecting output to grow at the fastest rate since February 1995, the survey said, as the fall in the value of the pound has helped to make the UK manufacturing sector more internationally competitive. The data support economists who have argued that sterling depreciation will help rebalance the economy away from a service and consumer-focused model to a more export and manufacturing-based system.
Electric cars pose little threat to oil demand
The popular claim that a surge in electric cars will hasten the arrival of peak oil demand is undermined by the data. The majority of the world’s cars will remain powered by petrol, also commonly known as gasoline, for at least the next two decades and this will drive oil demand, according to data from Facts Global Energy. With the number of passenger vehicles expected to grow to 1.8bn by 2040, the energy consultancy estimates only 10% will be accounted for by electric cars and a further 20% by hybrids.
The Financial Times
Renault diesels ‘are worst polluters’
Renault diesel cars emit the highest levels of toxic nitrogen oxides of all the big manufacturers and the French company’s recent models produce nine times the legal limit, tests have found. Volkswagen, which has paid £15 billion to settle cases in the US over cheating emissions tests, now produces the least-polluting cars, according to Which?, the consumer group. Jeep, Nissan, Hyundai and Ford scored badly in the Which? tests, producing at least five times the limit.
Fall in the pound makes London a cheaper city
UK cities are the cheapest they have been for 20 years to foreign visitors after a sharp decline in the value of the pound following the Brexit referendum, according to a global survey. Uncertainty over Britain’s exit from the EU has led London to lose its ranking as the sixth most expensive city in the world, falling to 24th place. However, while tourists have been reaping the benefits of the fall in sterling, a rise in import prices has meant that British households are paying more for their weekly shop.
Charge electric cars smartly to take pressure off national grid – minister
Electric cars are putting increasing pressure on the UK’s power grids, making it vital they are recharged at the right time of day, a minister has said. John Hayes, transport minister, said it was important that such battery-powered cars were topped up in smart ways to avoid unduly stressing the energy system. He said he hoped the accelerating uptake of electric cars, which registration figures show are growing faster than conventional new cars, could catalyse a wider debate on how best to manage the UK’s energy demand.