Eurozone Inflation Hits Four-Year High 2% As Energy Prices Surge

Eurozone Inflation Hits Four-Year High 2% As Energy Prices Surge

Eurozone Inflation Hits Four-Year High 2% As Energy Prices Surge

"Today's Eurozone CPI data will likely show that the headline inflation rate breached 2 percent for the first time in four years - which could extend bearish momentum (in bonds)", ING's global head of debt and rates strategy Padhraic Garvey said.

Consumer prices in the 19 countries using the euro rose by 2.0 percent from February previous year - up from January's 1.8 percent.

The annual rate has increased sharply from -0.2% in February 2016 and was the highest rate since January 2013.

Although inflation has now overshot its target, analysts have pointed out core inflation, which strips out the impact of energy and food prices, stands unchanged at just 0.9%.

Will the shift prompt a change in monetary policy?

Jennifer McKeown at Capital Economics said she expected the increase to 2.0 percent to "prove temporary". The firm suspects it will fall back later in the year as year-on-year energy prices moderate.

Rising inflation combined with low interest rates engineered by the central bank increase the pain felt by savers who are still getting near-zero returns on savings kept in conservative holdings such as bank deposits.

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"Although inflation has reached the ECB's target, core inflation remains subdued and upcoming elections in the Netherlands, France and Germany could derail business confidence and thereby hinder economic activity", said Oliver Kolodseike, senior economist at the Centre for Economics and Business Research in London.

The ECB has slashed interest rates and adopted a bond-buying program worth 2.3 trillion euros to pump money into the region's economy.

The preliminary 2% inflation rate registered last month across the euro area goes beyond the European Central Bank's target of close to, but below, that figure.

Most analysts think the European Central Bank will not back off its stimulus but may signal at some point later this year its intentions to start tapering it off gradually in 2018.

Although inflation is set to edge a little higher in the near-term due to base effects relating to energy prices, Archer expects inflation ending 2017 around 1.6 percent.

Separate figures from Eurostat found that the unemployment rate in the eurozone remained unchanged at 9.6% in January, which is the lowest rate since May 2009.

The number of unemployed decreased by 56,000 from December to 15.62 million.

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