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Inflation in the UK unexpectedly rose for the first time in nearly a year to 4% in December, official figures released today show, dampening hopes the Bank of England will lower interest rates in a matter of months (The Times £).

The increase in the annual rate was largely the result of increases in the cost of tobacco – after the chancellor, Jeremy Hunt, announced higher duty in the autumn statement – and alcohol (The Guardian).

Global stocks and bond markets retreated on Wednesday as investors scaled back expectations of swift interest rate cuts in the eurozone, the UK and the US (Financial Times £).

Financial Times (£) looks at how serious a setback the unexpected rise of inflation is in the UK, with hopes of an early interest rates cut potentially dashed.

Health inspectors at Dover, the UK’s busiest port, have warned they are facing a 70 per cent cut in central government funding that will pose a risk to British food safety and animal health (Financial Times £).

GSK has dumped £978m of Haleon shares, cutting its stake in the world’s largest standalone consumer healthcare firm to just 4.2% (Daily Mail).