Published: Wed, February 01, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

Eurozone inflation surges to highest rate in nearly four years

Eurozone inflation accelerated to its fastest pace in almost four years, according to preliminary data published Tuesday by the region's official statistics office, amid a surge in global oil and energy prices.

Inflation data for the bloc topped expectations at 1.8 percent, in line with the European Central Bank's target of close to but below 2 percent.

The euro area economy expanded at a slightly faster pace in the fourth quarter, preliminary flash estimate from Eurostat showed Tuesday.

For the wider European Union, unemployment was unchanged at 8.2% for the same period - the lowest rate since February 2009.

Previously released figures indicate Germany's economic growth rate accelerated to 0.5% from 0.2% in the third quarter, while Spain's growth rate remained steady at 0.7%.

The fourth quarter pickup allowed the eurozone economy to grow more rapidly than its US counterpart during 2016 as a whole, the first time that has happened since the crisis-year of 2008.

"The recovery is solid for the fifth year running. but it is still too weak to create all the jobs we need", Moscovici said. Also, youth unemployment remains strikingly high in Italy (40.1%) and Spain (42.9%).

The seasonally adjusted unemployment rate was 7.9% for males, down from 8.1% in December 2016 and down from 10.2% in January 2016.

But higher wages have become slightly more likely with a sharper fall in unemployment toward the end of previous year.

Joblessness has been one of the region's biggest problems, leading to demands for labour market reforms. But inflation has registered a dramatic increase.

Earlier today, official data showed that economic growth and inflation in the euro area gained in December.

In Germany, unemployment fell by more than expected in January, to a record low, although there was also news of an unexpected drop in retail sales in December.

The ECB is most afraid of deflation, a sustained fall in prices as consumers loose faith in the long-term health of the economy.

The ECB has time and again underlined that it wants to see sustainable economic improvement in the region and considers the present state of the euro zone economy as half-work-done.

"Consequently, we suspect that the European Central Bank is not for changing tack any time soon", he added.

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