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Israeli Inflation Unexpectedly Accelerates in December to 1.6%

Israeli inflation unexpectedly accelerated in December, while staying below the mid-point of the central bank’s target range.

The inflation rate rose to 1.6 percent from 1.4 percent the previous month, the Jerusalem-based Central Bureau of Statistics reported today. The median estimate of 13 economists surveyed by Bloomberg was 1.4 percent. The government’s target is 1 percent to 3 percent. In the month, consumer prices rose 0.2 percent.

The Bank of Israel monetary policy committee, led by Governor Stanley Fischer, has gradually reduced its benchmark interest rate from 3.25 percent in 2011 in an effort to shore up the economy amid the European debt crisis. The committee cut the rate by a quarter-point to 1.75 percent at the end of December, the second reduction in three months, bringing it to the lowest level in more than two years.

Israeli growth slowed to 3.3 percent in 2012 from 4.6 percent the previous year, the Central Bureau of Statistics reported Dec. 31, based on preliminary figures. About 40 percent of Israel’s gross domestic product is made up of exports, with Europe one of the largest markets.

Economists’ 12-month inflation expectations fell to 1.8 percent on average from 1.9 percent the previous month, the central bank said on Dec. 18.

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