Euro-Area Inflation Unexpectedly Revised Lower for February

  • Consumer prices rose annual 1.1% vs. initial reading of 1.2%
  • ECB earlier expressed surprise over signs of economic slack

A customer holds a ten euro banknote to purchase pastries in the Sant Antoni market in Barcelona.

Photographer: Angel Garcia/Bloomberg

Euro-area inflation slowed more than initially estimated last month, highlighting the challenges faced by the European Central Bank as it tries to stoke price pressures.

Consumer prices in the 19-country bloc rose just 1.1 percent in February from a year earlier, according the European Union’s statistical office. That’s the weakest rate since late 2016 and falls short of an initial reading of 1.2 percent.

The ECB has unleashed unprecedented stimulus in a bid to boost inflation back to its goal of just under 2 percent, with negative interest rates and a bond-buying program that is due to run at least until September. While officials meeting last week unexpectedly dropped their pledge to expand purchases, reflecting the region’s robust economic expansion, price pressures remain far too muted.

In an interview published Friday, ECB chief economist Peter Praet opposed shifting the institution’s language on its stimulus plans any time soon, saying rising labor supply suggests the euro area’s economic slack may be greater than previously thought.

— With assistance by Kristian Siedenburg, and Andre Tartar

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