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The annual UK inflation rate more than doubled in April, as a rise in energy and clothing costs drove prices higher.

The jump to 1.5% in April from 0.7% in March, means consumer prices are rising at their fastest rate since March 2020 at the outset of the pandemic.

The sharp increase largely reflected a jump in prices from low levels a year ago at the start of the pandemic, the Office for National Statistics said.

Higher oil prices also pushed up petrol prices, it added.

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According to the ONS, inflation climbed as lockdown restrictions were eased and shops reopened on 12 April. For example, the cost of takeaways, hotel bookings and footwear all rose.

Meanwhile, gas and electricity prices rose sharply after the default tariff cap was increased compared with a cut a year earlier.


Hannah Audino, economist at PwC, said she expected inflation to continue to rise as lockdown restrictions eased and the economy continued to reopen "allowing consumers to unleash some of their excess savings".

"Recent survey evidence suggests that the share of households who plan to spend some of their savings has increased in recent months, as the vaccine rollout boosts confidence," she added.

April's inflation rise had been predicted by economists, but there are concerns that soaring inflation this year as the global economy recovers from the pandemic could push central banks to raise interest rates.

'Bottlenecks'
Inflation fears weighed on financial markets after consumer prices in the US recorded their biggest annual jump since 2008.

Liz Martins, senior economist at HSBC, said that it looked like UK inflation would go above the Bank of England's 2% target, although this was "not too much of a worry for the Bank".

"Their view is that they need to keep inflation sustainably around 2% two to three years out from now, so the short term overshoot won't worry them too much, if it does prove temporary - and that's where opinions really seem to diverge," she said.

Many central bank governors, particularly in the US, are saying that the rise is due to bottlenecks in the aftermath of the pandemic which will go away, Ms Martins said.

But some people, including Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane, say the rise could be a cause for concern, and the Bank may need to raise interest rates to prevent inflation staying above target.

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