There are so many adjustments in the public borrowing figures these days that getting to the underlying picture is not easy. But on an underlying basis, the February borrowing numbers - inconveniently published on the day after the budget - look like good news.
Specifically, net borrowing in February was £2.8 billion, a huge £9 billion down on a year earlier. Some of this was due to special factors but stripping them out, borrowing was still £4 billion lower. Cumulative borrowing excluding the Royal Mail pension transfer and the shifting of asset purchase facility money from the Bank of England to the Treasury was £101.3 billion, compared with £104.2 billion in the corresponding period of 2011-12. Maybe talk of a borrowing undershoot is not so far-fetched. More here.
Also today, retail sales jumped by 2.1% in February, which was far stronger than expected, though volumes over the latest three months were still down by 0.2% on the previous three. More here.