Eurozone inflation slips further than expected to 1.5%

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Well, that didn’t last long.

Inflation in the eurozone has fallen back from its highest level in four years this month, slipping sharply to 1.5 per cent from 2 per cent in figures that should ease pressure on policymakers to exit their landmark stimulus measures. Analysts had expected a decline to 1.8 per cent.

Consumer prices had surged faster than expected at the start of 2017 as rebounding global oil prices pushed up energy costs and led to eurozone inflation hitting 2 per cent for the first time since 2012.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile elements such as energy and food, also slipped back to 0.7 per cent from 0.9 per cent this month, and will likely vindicate dovish elements in the European Central Bank who are still unconvinced that higher inflation can be sustained.

The softer than expected eurozone reading comes after German inflation tumbled this month (to 1.5 per cent from 2.2 per cent), while French consumer price growth remained flat at 1.4 per cent.

The fall eases some of the pressure on ECB president Mario Draghi to start tightening monetary policy after two years of bond buying that has seen the central bank’s balance sheet swell by €1.6tn.

As it stands, the ECB is buying €60bn a month worth of mostly government bonds under its quantitative easing programme. It plans to do so at least until the end of this year. While those plans are expected to remain in place, the bank could begin discussions later this year to taper, or slow, the pace of its bond buying in 2018.

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