Inflation jump deepens UK cost-of-living crisis

STORY: British price rises were expected to cool off in February.

Instead, they jumped again, adding to a cost-of-living crunch.

Inflation hit 10.4% during the month, confounding forecasts for a drop to 9.9%.

Higher prices for food and drink were the big driver.

The Office for National Statistics cited an end to January drinks promotions in pubs and restaurants as the single biggest factor.

Though a nation-wide shortage of salad ingredients on supermarket shelves added to the pressures.

This week UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said bringing down inflation was a top priority for his government:

“That's why the budget set out support for people, freezing fuel duty, helping them with their energy bills, extending free child care. Those are all things that are going to make a difference to people's lives."

Now it all leaves the Bank of England with a very tough decision to make at this week’s policy meeting.

Some had expected the central bank to pause interest rate hikes amid the global turmoil over bank stocks.

But the surprise jump in inflation may push policymakers the other way.

Markets now price in a hike of at least a quarter point.