That figure puts consumer price inflation a full percentage point above the Bank of England’s target rate of two per cent – a goal the Bank does not expect to meet until early 2016.
Inflation has been driven up by rising prices of imported goods and raw materials, higher utility bills, tuition costs and the pound’s slide against the dollar.
“Consumer price inflation may well have climbed to three per cent in March, thereby increasing the squeeze on consumers’ purchasing power,” said Howard Archer, of IHS Global Insight.
Wednesday will bring the release of further economic figures, with unemployment data likely to be little changed from last month.
“We expect the ILO unemployment rate to remain unchanged at 7.8 per cent in February. The claimant count for March should also be unchanged (from -1.5k previously),” said Blerina Uruci of Barclays.
Tesco is likely to be in the spotlight for the corporate calendar this week, when it reports its full-year profits on Wednesday. It is expected to confirm it is pulling out of the US and announce a drop in profits from the same time last year.
Citigroup today reports its first full quarter of results under new chief executive Mike Corbat. The new boss has cut 11,000 jobs so analysts are predicting higher restructuring and legal costs.
Primary Health Properties will also update the market.
Tomorrow Michael Page is set to give a trading update. JD Sports Fashion will announce preliminary results on Wednesday, while Smiths News will deliver interim results and Burberry Group, Hargreaves Lansdown, Moneysupermarket.com and Bunzl will give trading updates.
On Thursday Debenhams, which last month issued a profit warning, is set to give its interim results. The retailer’s profits have been hit by snow and cold weather. Diageo, Evraz, GKN, Jupiter Fund Management, Persimmon, Rexam, SABMiller and Telford Homes will all be giving trading updates.
On Friday Filtronic, Record, Spectris and William Hill will update the market on their recent trading performance.
Rio Tinto, BHP Billiton and Fresnillo will give production reports tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday respectively.