ATHENS Greece's annual EU-harmonised inflation rate picked up in January, statistics service data showed on Wednesday, with the reading coming in above market expectations, hitting almost a five-year high.
The reading in January was 1.5 percent from 0.3 percent in December. Consumer prices were led higher by transport, housing, telecoms, alcoholic beverages and tobacco costs.
Economists polled by Reuters were forecasting a 0.4 percent print in January.
The data also showed the headline consumer price index rose to 1.2 percent year-on-year from zero percent in the previous month, emerging from a protracted deflation trend.
For years an inflation outlier in the euro zone, Greece had been in a protracted deflation mode since March 2013 based on its headline index, as wage and pension cuts and a multi-year recession took a heavy toll on Greek household incomes.
Deflation in Greece, which signed up to its first international bailout in 2010, hit its highest level in November 2013, when consumer prices registered a 2.9 percent year-on-year decline.
Euro zone inflation jumped more than expected in January on a surge in energy prices as economic growth accelerated and unemployment fell to its lowest level in more than seven years.
Inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro accelerated to 1.8 percent year-on-year in January from 1.1 percent in December, reaching the European Central Bank's medium-term target of below, but close to 2 percent.
(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)