Fears that the quickening inflation fuelled by the runaway price of oil may feed through into irresistible wage pressure have so far been misplaced.

Official numbers yesterday show that the rise in average earnings eased off during the summer.

Not counting bonuses, average earnings in the three months to July were 3.9 per cent higher than 12 months earlier, lower than in any months since February, 2004, and down from four per cent in the three months to June.

It is also well within the "comfort zone" of 4.5 per cent which the Bank of England has indicated should be compatible with its two per cent inflation target.

The Bank's interestsetting Monetary Policy Committee has been watching what it regards as a tight labour market for signs that energy prices could feed through into wider inflationary spiral by way of earnings.

National Statistics said headline average earnings, including bonuses, rose by 4.2 per cent year on year in the three months to July, after a 4.1 per cent increase in the three months to June.