Euro Area: Inflation eases in March to lowest level in nearly five years
March 28, 2014
According to the flash estimate Eurostat released on 31 March, the harmonized index of consumer prices (HICP) added 0.5% over the same month last year in March. The reading, which marks the lowest inflation since October 2009, came in below the 0.7% increase recorded in February and just barely undershot market expectations of a 0.6% increase. The slowdown largely resulted from a 2.1% drop in the energy component of the index-the third consecutive decrease so far. Month-on-month price variations and a more detailed set of data will be provided on 17 March. In February, consumer prices rose 0.3% over the previous month, which contrasted the 1.1% increase recorded in January. Annual headline inflation inched down from 0.8% in January to 0.7% in February. Annual average inflation eased from 1.3% in January to 1.2% in February. The core inflation index, which does not include prices for energy, rose 0.4% over the previous month (January: -1.4% month-on-month). Annual core inflation inched up from 1.0% in January to 1.1% in February. At a country level, 8 of the 18 Eurozone economies posted annual inflation rates equal to or above the regional average. Finland (1.6%) and Malta (1.6%) recorded the highest annual inflation rates. At the other end of the spectrum, Cyprus and Greece experienced year-on-year decreases in harmonized consumer prices (-1.3% and -0.9% respectively). Among the major economies in the Eurozone, inflation was above the regional average in France (1.1%) and Germany (1.0%), whereas below average in Italy (0.4%) and Spain (0.1%). FocusEconomics Consensus Forecast participants see inflation in the Euro area averaging 1.1% in 2014, which is unchanged from last month's forecast. For 2015, panelists expect inflation to average 1.4%.
Author: Armando Ciccarelli, Head of Data Solutions