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Inflation in the eurozone hit its highest level in four years in January but the core inflation rate – which the European Central Bank has stressed needs to climb before it ends its quantitative easing policies – continued to lag behind, the EU’s statistics agency has confirmed.

Consumer prices in the single currency area rose 1.8 per cent in the year to January, the fastest annual increase since January 2013.

The final reading from Eurostat was in line with a flash reading at the end of last month, but above economists’ initial forecasts.

Once again, however, core inflation, which excludes volatile energy, food, alcohol and tobacco prices, lagged behind, staying steady at 0.9 per cent.

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