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May 17, 5:26 AM EDT

UK inflation falls for the first time since September


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LONDON (AP) -- Official figures show that Britain's annual inflation rate dropped last month to 0.3 percent from 0.5 percent in March, as stores slashed prices on clothes amid cool temperatures and airlines cut fares after Easter holidays.

The inflation rate, reported Tuesday by the Office for National Statistics, remains well below the Bank of England's target of 2 percent.

But economists say that inflation looks likely to gradually rise, in part because oil prices are starting to recover. Brent crude, the benchmark for North Sea oil, is nearing $50 a barrel, up from a 12-year low in January.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney has warned a vote to leave the European Union in a June referendum would cause the pound to drop, which would push up inflation.

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