Euro Zone Inflation Jump Confirmed

Energy and food prices pushed euro zone inflation in October to its highest in more than two years, but while economists expect this to trigger hawkish ECB talk, they see no interest rate rises as the economy slows.

The European Union statistics office confirmed on Thursday its earlier estimate that consumer prices in the 13 countries using the euro rose 0.5 percent month-on-month and 2.6 percent year-on-year, in line with economists’ expectations.

October’s annual inflation was the highest since September 2005. In December that year, the ECB, which wants to keep inflation just below 2 percent, started raising interest rates from 2.0 percent to the current 4.0 percent.

Energy prices jumped 0.6 percent on the month and 5.5 percent year-on-year while food, alcohol and tobacco surged 1.0 percent against September and 3.5 percent against the same period of last year.

Core inflation, which excludes volatile energy and unprocessed food prices, was up 0.5 percent on the month and accelerated to 2.1 percent in annual terms from 2.0 percent in the previous two months. That was the highest core inflation since December 2004.

The ECB watches the number closely in policy decisions to see if oil prices are feeding through to other sectors of the economy. Economists said the October data had not fully captured the recent surge in oil prices to new record highs above $98 per barrel, which would show in the November and December figures.

Euro Zone Inflation Jump Confirmed, Reuters
11/15/2007 6:27:36 AM