March 3, 2020 / 10:03 AM / a month ago

Euro zone inflation slows in Feb as coronavirus cuts energy prices

BRUSSELS, March 3 (Reuters) - Euro zone consumer prices grew more slowly in February than in January, as expected, data from the European Union’s statistics office showed on Tuesday, as the spread of the coronavirus around the world depressed oil prices.

Eurostat estimated that consumer prices rose 1.2% year-on-year in February after a 1.4% rise in January, in line with a Reuters poll of analysts.

The slower growth was mainly due to -0.3% year-on-year fall drop in energy prices. Without it, and excluding the volatile unprocessed food prices, inflation accelerated to 1.4% year-on-year from 1.3% in January.

An even narrower measure that also excludes alcohol and tobacco prices and that is watched closely by many bank economists also accelerated to 1.2% from 1.1% in January.

Separately, Eurostat said that prices at factory gates, which point to trends in consumer prices later, rose 0.4% month-on-month in January for a decline of 0.5% year-on-year, as expected by economists polled by Reuters.

Eurostat also said that euro zone unemployment rate was 7.4% in January 2020 as expected, the same rate as in December 2019 and down from 7.8% in January 2019 — the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since May 2008. (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)

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