Eurozone inflation eases to 2.6% in April: EU


BRUSSELS — Eurozone inflation eased only slightly to 2.6 percent in April from 2.7 percent in March, EU figures showed Wednesday, marking the 17th month running during which inflation has exceeded its target. The figure provided by the European Union’s Eurostat agency remained well above the European Central Bank’s medium-term target of below but close to two percent. Last week, the ECB hiked its 2012 inflation forecast by 0.4 percentage points to 2.3 percent, owing to higher energy costs. Using a Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices, the European Central Bank’s inflation yardstick, Germany posted inflation of 2.2 percent and France was a bit higher at 2.4 percent. Italy remained way above the average at 3.7 percent however, and all three fell only narrowly. Spain, which like Italy is stuck in recession and struggling with very high unemployment, logged inflation of 2 percent, an increase from the level in March of 1.8 percent. “Sticky eurozone inflation is a blow to Eurozone recovery prospects as it is maintaining a squeeze on consumers’ purchasing power,” IHS Global Insight analyst Howard Archer said of Eurostat’s second estimate for April. He forecast that high energy costs would keep investment and employment prospects “fragile” and added that it “seems unlikely that eurozone consumer price inflation will get down to 2.0 percent before the turn of the year.”