More expensive services lead euro zone inflation rebound in January

Christmas decoration is seen in a department store in city centre in Nuremberg
FILE PHOTO: Christmas decoration is seen in a department store in city centre in Nuremberg, Germany, November 26, 2020. REUTERS/Andreas Gebert/Files

February 23, 2021

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – More expensive services and industrial goods led a rebound in inflation in January after months of falling prices, offsetting the downward pull of cheaper energy, data showed on Tuesday.

The European Union’s statistics office Eurostat confirmed earlier estimates that consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.2% month-on-month for a 0.9% year-on-year increase, as expected by economists.

Volatile energy prices were 3.8% higher on the month but still 4.2% lower than a year earlier and unprocessed food was 1.2% more expensive on the month and 2.0% year-on-year.

Without these two volatile components, consumer prices fell 0.3% against December and were 1.4% higher than in January 2020.

An even narrower measure excluding also alcohol and tobacco prices, that often change because of excise tax changes, fell 0.5% month-on-month in January and rose 1.4% in annual terms.

Eurostat said services, which make up two thirds of the euro zone economy, added 0.65 percentage points to the final annual inflation result and non-energy industrial goods added another 0.37 point, offsetting a 0.41 point subtraction from cheap energy.

Food, alcohol and tobacco added 0.3 point, Eurostat said.

The January rebound brings inflation, which has been negative for months, a bit closer to the European Central Bank’s target of below, but close to 2% over the medium term.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski)