UK inflation turned negative by the narrowest of margins in March as it dropped to -0.01%, official figures showed today. 

The UK's Consumer Price Index measure of inflation was officially given as zero, the same as in February. 

But a calculation to two decimal places showed that CPI was slightly lower in March, having been at +0.03% the previous month. 

The headline CPI rate of zero remains the lowest since comparable records from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) began in 1989. 

According to an experimental model created by the ONS, it was last lower - at -0.6% - in March 1960.

The marginal decline in prices means that a basket of goods and services worth £100 in March last year would have cost £99.99 this year.

UK inflation has been dragged lower by tumbling petrol prices and the supermarket price war.

Food and non-alcoholic beverages were 3% cheaper year on year in March, though this was a smaller decline than in the previous month.

Meanwhile, petrol prices rose 3.8 pence between February and March, though they were still down sharply on the year. Together the two factors dragged on the latest CPI rate by 0.8%.

Meanwhile, clothing and footwear, which normally see price rises between February and March as they continue to recover from the sales period at the start of the year, dropped slightly. This was largely caused by subdued prices in women's clothes such as dresses, trousers and cardigans.

A cut in gas prices dragged on the CPI rate but the headline figure avoided turning as low as -0.1%, as some economists had predicted. 

Restaurant and hotel prices rose month on month by a smaller margin than last year, though they still represented the largest positive contribution preventing outright negative inflation.