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Equilibrium's Finance and Investment News Roundup

Our roundup of the last seven days in the world of finance and investment includes new figures showing that UK inflation hit a one-year high in January, claims that pensions remain the most effective savings option, a survey suggesting employers will rein in wage increases this year and research revealing a slip in UK construction output in the fourth quarter of 2015.

 

UK inflation 'hit one-year high in January'

Annual UK inflation rose to a 12-month high in January, new findings from the Office for National Statistics have shown. According to the figures, the annual rate climbed to 0.3% last month, representing the highest level since the same month last year and indicating a move away from the record lows recorded during 2015.

Indeed, British annual inflation stood at zero last year, which was the lowest mark since comparable records first began, back in 1950. Inflation has now stood below 2% - the Bank of England's (BoE) target - for two years.

The rise in January has been accredited to a small climb in clothes prices and smaller drops in food and fuel prices compared to a year ago. Despite the upturn, the BoE has previously stated that it anticipates inflation to remain below 1% throughout 2016. 

IFS: Pensions still best for saving

Pensions remain the best option when it comes to saving, it has been claimed. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found this to be the case, despite upcoming tax changes, by comparing pensions with various other forms of saving.

It pitted pensions against individual savings accounts (Isa), buying a house and investing in buy-to-let property. The study considered the new Personal Savings Allowance and amends to dividend taxation, which will come into effect in April this year. It found that despite these changes, pensions are still the most beneficial form of saving, mainly due to the auto enrolment programme.

This programme means that employers are required to match employee contributions. The report stated: "Since employers rarely make equivalent offers to match employees' contributions to say, an Isa or a house, it makes savings in a pension much more attractive relative to other assets."

Of course it is worth mentioning that it is always important to be aware of the numerous options available, and deciding which to take will likely be dependent on your individual circumstances and attitudes towards risk. 

Employers 'not planning big wage increases this year'

Employers in the UK do not intend to make significant wage increases this year, new research has suggested. The study from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) found that employers expect to raise salaries by less than forecasts made by the Bank of England, which had claimed average earnings would likely climb by 3% by the end of 2016.

The survey found instead that employers anticipate average basic pay will increase by just 1.2% this year. Gerwyn Davies, Labour Market Analyst at CIPD, said: "The feedback we're seeing from employers suggests that official forecasts for wage inflation for 2016 are too optimistic." 

ONS: UK construction output dipped in Q4

Construction output in the UK slipped in the fourth quarter of last year. This is according to new data from the Office for National Statistics, which showed that output dipped by 0.4% in the quarter, which followed a 1.7% slide in the third quarter.

Reduced infrastructure spending has been cited as a cause of the downturn, which came despite housebuilding increasing at a faster pace than at any other time since the beginning of 2014.

The research showed that while total construction output climbed by 3.4%, it remains 4.1% below levels seen prior to the recession in 2008.