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Official data showed consumer prices rose by an annual 2.7 per cent last month, the weakest increase since July of previous year and down from a rise of 3.0 per cent in January.

Cape Town - South Africa's headline consumer price inflation (CPI) eased to 4.0% in February, down from 4.4% in January 2018, according to official figures.

Economists and the Bank of England believe inflation's upward march has run its course and will start to unwind in 2018.

Investors saw the softening of inflation as unlikely to challenge the BoE's message from last month that interest rates will probably need to rise more quickly than it had previously thought.

Phil Gooding, the ONS head of CPI said a small fall in petrol prices alongside food prices rising more slowly than a year ago helped to bring down the rate in February.

British inflation was weaker than expected in February as the impact of the 2016 Brexit vote faded from the figures, easing some of the squeeze on consumers who have seen their pay rise more slowly than prices.

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The central bank bases its interest rate decisions on what inflation is likely to be six to twenty-four months in the future, instead of what it has come out recently at, Bishop added.

The level of inflation fell in February, with the worst of the Brexit driven prices increases seen in the United Kingdom in the last 18 months now appearing to be over. The economists expect the data to show acceleration of growth to an annual rate of 2.6% in the three months to the end of January.

Sterling's slide since the Brexit vote has ratcheted up the pressure on household spending power, climbing from 0.6 per cent shortly after the European Union referendum result to a near six-year high of 3.1 per cent in November 2017.

The ONS also said house prices in January rose by an annual 4.9 percent across the United Kingdom as a whole, down a touch from 5.0 percent in December but significantly higher than closely watched house price indexes from mortgage lender Halifax and Nationwide.

"We are increasing the National Living Wage which is already helping the lowest earners see their pay rise by nearly 7% above inflation".

The BoE warned in February that it will raise interest rates faster than markets had been expecting if the inflation outlook evolves in line with its latest set of forecasts. This perception will be key to expectations for the next Bank of England interest rate rise and the performance of Pound Sterling in the short term.