As Chancellor Gordon Brown launches his Budget today, official numbers showed inflation running at precisely his two per cent target in February.
Mr Brown's chosen measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index, rose by 0.4 per cent between January and February.
But because a steeper increase in February last year dropped out of the 12-month reckoning, the year-on-year change edged up by only 0.1 per cent to hit two per cent exactly for the first time in eight months.
Both the Retail Prices Index, used by many pay bargainers and pension schemes and the Bank of England's previous target index, which leaves out mortgage interest, stayed unchanged at 2.4 per cent and 2.3 per cent respectively.
National Statistics said the most powerful price rises were those of computer games, which wiped out a long downward trend for all kinds of "recreational items".
Similarly, prices of hard-back books, which had fallen by 2.3 per cent over the year to January, were showing a similar increase by the end of February - the result of various special offers coming to an end. These factors were partly offset by air fares, particularly on domestic routes, which fell in February, when they were rising in February last year.
Surprisingly, petrol prices had a dampening effect on inflation this time. They rose by 0.4p a litre to an average of 89.2p, while last February they rose by 0.6p - to 79.8p.
Last month's drastic increase in gas prices had no effect as there were similar moves in February last year. Anyway the impact on inflation will be spread out over three months as gas bills are posted to householders.
Overall, the outcome for the CPI ended a five-month downward trend as year-on-year inflation eased back from a recent peak of 2.5 per cent in September.
It was in line with most economists' expectations and followed the Bank's quarterly Inflation Report last month, where the central projection indicated that the CPI should remain close to the two per cent target for the next two years.
The implications for the next move in interest rates remain unclear. The Bank's official rate has stayed at 4.5 per cent since a quarter-point cut last August.
Gavin Redknap, an economist at Standard Chartered Bank, commented: "While the data increasingly suggests that inflation is not a particular concern, the Bank looks unlikely to deviate from its current policy in the near term given signs of strength in the domestic housing market."
Mr Redknap expects interest rates to ease in the second half of this year, despite growing market expectations of a move in the opposite direction.
Jonathan Said, an economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research, said that while February's upturn in inflation may push it above the Bank's target temporarily in the coming months, there would be no change in interest rates.
"The news will not surprise the Bank of England," he said. "Its, and CEBR's, short-term outlook for inflation is one of around two per cent.
"What all this points to is a rather benign Monetary Policy Committee which may very easily leave rates unchanged."