Eurozone inflation accelerated in March largely on food prices, supporting the calls for policy normalization by the European Central Bank.
Moreover, the unemployment rate declined to a more than nine-year low in February, which could be another factor that could push inflation higher in the months ahead.
Inflation rose to 1.4 percent in March from 1.1 percent in February, flash data from Eurostat showed Wednesday. A similar higher rate was last seen in December. Final data is due on April 18.
Inflation continues to stay below the ECB’s target of ‘below, but close to 2 percent’.
However, core inflation that excludes the volatile prices of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, held steady at 1 percent in March.
Among the main components, food, alcohol and tobacco price growth doubled to 2.2 percent from 1 percent in February. Cost of services rose 1.5 percent, faster than February’s 1.3 percent increase.
Meanwhile, energy prices climbed at a slower pace of 2 percent after rising 2.1 percent. Similarly, growth in non-energy industrial goods prices eased to 0.2 percent from 0.6 percent.
While the headline rate is likely to fall next month due to Easter timing effects, energy effects look set to push headline inflation back up towards the ECB’s near-2 percent target in the summer, Jessica Hinds, an economist at Capital Economics, said.
But with core inflation remaining weak in March, the ECB will continue to stress its patient and persistent approach to monetary policy normalization, the economist noted.
Another report from Eurostat revealed that the unemployment rate in the currency bloc declined to 8.5 percent in February from 8.6 percent in January. This was the lowest since December 2008 and in line with expectations.
The number of people out of work decreased by 141,000 from the previous month to 13.916 million in March.
The youth unemployment rate came in at 17.7 percent in February, unchanged from January.