Spanish Core Inflation Rises Even as Six-Year Slump Deepens

Spain’s core inflation rate rose in February as the deepest austerity measures in the nation’s democratic history sustained price increases while pushing the economy deeper into a recession.

Core inflation, which excludes energy and fresh-food prices, was 2.3 percent last month, up from 2.2 percent in January, the National Statistics Institute in Madrid said today. That’s more than the 2.1 percent median of four forecasts in a Bloomberg survey. Underlying prices were unchanged from the previous month.

Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has ruled out additional budget cuts in 2013 as he aims to end a six-year slump in the euro area’s fourth-largest economy. The European Central Bank last week left its benchmark interest rate unchanged as it predicted the region will shrink 0.5 percent this year, more than the 0.3 percent contraction forecast three months ago.

Automaker chief executives including Fiat SpA’s Sergio Marchionne and Renault SA’s Carlos Ghosn spoke out recently against more austerity in Europe as car sales in January fell to the lowest for that month since records began in 1990. Spain’s market, once the region’s fifth biggest, now lags behind Belgium even though Spain has four times as many people.

Spain’s headline inflation rate, based on European Union calculations, was 2.9 percent, higher than a preliminary estimate of 2.8 percent published on Feb. 28.

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