Worries over price pressures heighten

Julian Harris
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CONSUMER price inflation in March could have edged closer to five per cent, economists expect.

Official data released tomorrow will show whether inflation has moved further upwards from its 28-month high of 4.4 per cent in February.

Factory gate inflation data out last week showed an annualised rate of 5.4 per cent -- its highest since October 2008.

Producer input prices surged 3.7 per cent compared to February, rising 14.6 per cent above levels from March last year.

“The factory gate price data tally with our business survey data, which showed a record increase in March,” said economist Chris Williamson of Markit.

“Worse may be yet to come, as oil prices have since hit a record high in sterling terms and supply chain disruptions from the Japanese earthquake could also drive up prices for certain highly sought-after components,” Williamson said.

Bank of England governor Mervyn King has warned that consumer price index (CPI) inflation could hit five per cent this year, as the squeeze on households tightens.