Euro zone inflation stabilizes in ‘danger zone’

Euro Zone

Euro zone inflation stabilized in what the European Central Bank has called the “danger zone” in February, data showed on Friday, while unemployment remained stuck near record highs ahead of an ECB policy meeting next week.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat estimated that consumer prices in the 18 countries sharing the euro rose 0.8 percent year-on-year this month. That was the same rate as in January and December, after readings of 0.9 percent in November and 0.7 percent in October.

ECB President Mario Draghi has warned of the risk of inflation getting stuck in a danger zone below 1 percent, but said again on Thursday that there was clearly no deflation.

February’s inflation rate was stable because lower energy costs were offset by more expensive industrial goods and services.

But so-called core inflation, which excludes the most volatile components like energy, food, alcohol and tobacco prices, continued to inch higher, to 1.0 percent year-on-year from 0.8 percent in January and 0.7 percent in December.

Price pressures in the euro zone economy are low because unemployment remains stuck close to record highs. Eurostat said on Friday that 12 percent of the bloc’s workforce was unemployed in January, unchanged from a month before.

In absolute terms, the number of people without jobs edged higher to 19,175,000 from 19,158,000 in December, it said.

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