Pound climbs to highest since Brexit vote

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After the labor market figures it was steady at $1.4363, its highest since the Brexit vote.

It should also keep up expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates to 0.75% next month. Inflation seems set to fall back towards target, but a pick-up in wage growth points to an erosion of slack in the labour market. Meanwhile, unemployment was at 4.2 per cent- the lowest since 1975.

Workers' total earnings are expected to rise by an annual 3 percent in the three months to February, according to a Reuters poll of economists.

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Stephen Clarke, senior economic analyst at the Resolution Foundation, said: "Today's figures confirm that Britain passed an important living standards milestone in early 2018 as its 12-month pay squeeze finally ended".

"A 3 percent wage growth print in today’s United Kingdom jobs report should seal the deal for a May BoE hike – but it may be the activity data that holds the key to the pace of BoE policy normalisation and sterling's cyclical re-pricing", ING's currencies strategist Viraj Patel said.

While this is a small rise, it is the first time since January 2017 that real wage growth has turned positive.

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Badly battered in the aftermath of Britain's 2016 vote to leave the European Union, the currency has staged a major comeback, and has climbed 6% against the dollar and 3% against the euro this year alone. By the early months of 2017, inflation was rising faster than wages - a net drag on the economy as households spent less.

However, inflation over the period using a slightly different measure preferred by the Bank of England - CPI - was an average 2.9%, still slightly ahead of wage increases. Tuesday's figures showed there were 1.42 million unemployed people in Britain in the three months to February, 16,000 fewer than the previous three-month period, and that the unemployment rate was at 4.2 percent, its lowest since 1975.

"The labour market continues to be strong, and for the first time in nearly a year, earnings have grown slightly after inflation has been taken into account", said Matt Hughes at the ONS.

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Inflation data follows on Wednesday, and retail sales figures come on Thursday. They are expected to show CPI steady at 2.7%.

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