Britain’s public finances have been given a boost, with income tax receipts for January producing the biggest monthly surplus in seven years, while PMI readings for Europe report growth. Kirsty Basset reports.
A welcome boost for Britain's coffers. The biggest monthly surplus in seven years, thanks to a rise in British income tax receipts. The Office for National Statistics reported a January public finance surplus of 8.8 billion pounds, up 35 per cent from a year earlier. But it was slightly less than the 9 billion pounds forecast in a Reuters poll. Income tax and capital gains tax revenues were up 6 per cent compared to a year earlier. It's welcome relief for the government, who've made deficit reduction a key policy, and are hoping to be reelected in May. Chancellor George Osborne has been busy on the campaign trail. (SOUNDBITE)(English) CHANCELLOR GEORGE OSBORNE SAYING: "We meet at the end of a week when we have heard that Britain has the lowest rate of inflation and the highest rate of employment in our country's modern history." Good news also for the euro zone, with a survey showing its private sector expanded at the fastest pace in seven months. Markit's flash PMI for Germany climbed to 54.3 in February, well above the key 50 threshold dividing growth from contraction, helped along by stronger than expected growth among service providers. And France saw its private sector expand at the fastest rate in three and a half years this month - its PMI jumping to 52.2, up from 49.3 in January. It's the first time the reading has been above the 50 mark since last April.