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Pound rises ahead of latest UK inflation figure release

The pound pushed higher ahead of key UK labour data and inflation figures set to be released later this week.

Sterling rose by nearly 0.4% against the US dollar to trade at 1.241, and climbed more than 0.4% versus the euro to 1.171.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 100 ended the day flat, down 0.43 points at 7,348.94.

It follows a relatively quiet day for markets, which left investors poised for economic data that will provide a snapshot of UK economic health last month.

Connor Campbell, a financial analyst at SpreadEx, said: "Today has been one of the more forgettable trading days in a while. Things should pick up, however, on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"The former sees the latest UK inflation figure, which has gradually become one of, if not the, biggest mover of the pound since the referendum last summer."

The Consumer Price Index (CPI) measure of inflation is expected to come in at 2.3% in March, according to consensus estimates, matching February's figure but still up from 1.8% in January.

"That's followed on Wednesday by the UK jobs report. Last month saw inflation outstrip wage growth, so investors are going to be keen to see if there has been any further widening of the gap between two of the more crucial post-Brexit metrics," Mr Campbell added.

Across Europe, the French Cac 40 fell more than 0.5% while the German Dax ended the day down 0.2%.

In oil markets, Brent crude prices rose 1.1% to 55.78 US dollars per barrel (£44.90) as production stopped at a key oilfield in Libya. Armed groups have reportedly been clashing in the region recent weeks.

In UK stocks, Barclays shares rose 0.9p to 216.2p amid news that the lender's boss Jes Staley will be probed by the financial watchdog and have his pay docked over governance failings which saw him attempt to identify a whistleblower.

It comes after Mr Staley initially requested that Barclays Group Information Security team attempt to identify the authors of the letters that had raised concerns about a newly recruited senior employee and Mr Staley's role in the recruitment .

The bank said he considered the letters to be an "unfair personal attack" on the employee.

Hornby shares rose 0.25p to 33.25p as the company's second-largest shareholder New Pistoria called for chairman Roger Canham to step down from the troubled toymaker. New Pistoria wants Mr Canham to be replaced by Victoria Carpets non-executive director Alexander Anton.

Shares in BHP Billiton rose 28.5p to 1,316p after it emerged activist investor Elliott Advisors is calling for an overhaul of the company's structure, which would include unifying BHP's dual-listed structure into a single Australian-headquartered and tax resident entity.

The biggest risers on the FTSE 100 were Associated British Foods up 94p to 2,578p, Mediclinic International up 25p to 724.5p, Hikma Pharmaceuticals up 62p to 1,946p, and Micro Focus International up 63p to 2,504p

The biggest fallers on the FTSE 100 were Fresnillo down 41p to 1,583p, Randgold Resources down 180p to 7,230p, Antofagasta down 18p to 851p, and Johnson Matthey down 57p to 2,972p.

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