Feb. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Euro-area consumer prices grew more than initially estimated in January, easing pressure on the European Central Bank to take action next month to counter low inflation and spur growth.
Consumer prices rose an annual 0.8 percent after a similar gain in December, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. That exceeds Eurostat’s initial Jan. 31 estimate of 0.7 percent. Still, it’s the fourth consecutive reading of less than 1 percent. The Frankfurt-based central bank aims to keep inflation at just under 2 percent.
ECB President Mario Draghi said over the weekend that policy makers are ready to add to stimulus if the outlook for prices deteriorates, though there are currently no signs of euro-area deflation.
“We don’t have any evidence of people postponing their expenditure plans with a view to buying the same thing at lower prices; in other words we don’t see what is defined to be deflation,” Draghi said after a Group of 20 meeting in Sydney. “We are aware of the risks. The Governing Council is willing and ready to take any action in case these risks were to gain strength.”
Energy prices fell an annual 1.2 percent in January after stagnating in December, according to today’s report. The core inflation rate, which strips out volatile items such as energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, rose to 0.8 percent from 0.7 percent. In the month, overall prices fell 1.1 percent.
On Feb. 6, Draghi put investors on a month’s notice for further economic stimulus, saying the Frankfurt-based central bank needed “to get more information” on the recovery before making any decision. The ECB held its benchmark interest rate at a record-low 0.25 percent this month.
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