The latest public sector net borrowing figures showed that the budget surplus widened to a record £15.76 billion last month. The surplus is largely down to a sharp increase of income and capital gains tax receipts, which were up by 14%. The reading was much better than the £11.05 billion the markets had been expecting and is the largest surplus since records began in 1993.
While Hammond will no doubt welcome the news, coming as it does a couple of weeks from his spring statement, a thinktank has found that Tory austerity policies have left each household £300 a month worse off since 2010. Still, the positives to take from the borrowing figures are that Brexit has not yet had an impact on public finances. It will be interesting to see what the reading is a year from now and whether we can learn anything from that.
The only release of note from the UK to close the week out is the Confederation of British Industry’s distributive trades reading for February. Last month, the figure was a big round zero, with some economists predicting a sharp drop. We could well see further resignations from Labour and the Conservative party, but let’s cross our fingers that after two years of negotiations, Theresa May manages to come up with a proposal that stands a realistic chance of being passed by Parliament.