British 12-month inflation surges to 4.4% in February

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British annual inflation jumped to 4.4 percent in February, the highest level for more than two years and compared with a rate of 4.0 percent in January, official data showed on Tuesday.

Consumer price index inflation was propelled by soaring domestic gas and electricity bills, record prices for diesel and petrol, and rising clothing costs, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said in a statement.

"Domestic heating costs and clothing are the most significant drivers behind the increase in annual inflation between January and February," the ONS added.

The February reading compared with market expectations for a year-on-year rise to 4.3 percent, according to analysts polled by Dow Jones Newswires.

At 4.4 percent -- the highest level since October 2008 -- the annual rate was more than double the Bank of England's official target rate of 2.0 percent.

Annual inflation has now risen for the past five months in a row, driven also by surging world oil prices and a recent hike in government sales taxes.

© 2011 AFP

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