Euro zone headline and core inflation slowed in March, flash estimates showed on Monday, supporting the European Central Bank’s decision to delay a planned tightening of monetary policy.
The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat said consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the euro grew 1.4 percent year-on-year in March, against market expectation of no change from February’s 1.5 percent.
Energy prices were the only major component of the index that accelerated in March, to a rise of 5.3 percent year-on-year from 3.6 percent in February. Growth of all other components was slower.
Excluding the volatile energy and unprocessed food contributions — what the ECB calls core inflation and watches closely in policy decisions — consumer prices rose 1.0 percent year-on-year, decelerating from 1.2 percent in February.
Markets had expected an unchanged reading.
An even narrower measure, excluding also alcohol and tobacco and watched closely by market economists also decelerated to 0.8 percent from 1.0 percent in February, against the average expectation of 0.9 percent in a Reuters poll of analysts.
The ECB wants to keep headline inflation below, but close to 2 percent over the medium term and reversed course in March to put off plans to “normalize” its very loose monetary policy.
Instead it decided to provide banks with even more liquidity and delaying a rate increase until next year.