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Feb 14, 5:27 AM EST

UK inflation reaches a 2 1/2-year high in January

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LONDON (AP) -- Inflation in Britain reached a 2 1/2-year high in January, as rising fuel prices pushed the rate closer to the central bank's target.

The Office for National Statistics said Tuesday that inflation hit 1.8 percent last month, just shy of the 2 percent target set by the Bank of England, and up from 1.6 percent in December.

The ONS said the costs of raw materials and goods leaving factories "both rose significantly" because of the pound's drop and higher oil prices.

The pound has lost almost a fifth of its value against the dollar since Britain voted in June to leave the European Union.

Ben Brettell, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, says firms will soon have to pass on the burden of cost increases to consumers.

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