Eurozone inflation accelerated sharply, but less than initially estimated, to set a record high in March underpinned by surging energy prices, final data from Eurostat showed on Thursday.
Consumer price annual inflation jumped to 7.4 percent from 5.9 percent in February. Although the rate was revised down slightly from the flash estimate of 7.5 percent, it was the strongest on record.
Core inflation, which excludes prices of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, accelerated to 2.9 percent from 2.7 percent a month ago. Core inflation was also revised down by 1 percentage point from 3.0 percent.
The current inflation figure is more than triple the European Central Bank target of 2.0 percent.
The ECB expects food and energy prices to keep climbing in the months ahead. The central bank has projected inflation to stay elevated for longer than earlier expected.
Headline inflation is expected to peak at over 8 percent and average around 7 percent in the year as a whole, Jack Allen-Reynolds, an economist at Capital Economics, said. As rising inflation will put a dent in consumer spending, the year 2022 will be a year of stagflation for the eurozone, the economist added.
Among the main components, energy prices showed the biggest acceleration in March, up 44.7 percent versus 32.0 percent in February.
Food, alcohol & tobacco prices rose 5.0 percent compared with 4.2 percent in February.
Likewise, growth in non-energy industrial goods prices advanced to 3.4 percent from 3.1 percent increase in February. Services costs climbed 2.7 percent, also faster than the 2.5 percent gain in the previous month.
Recent data suggest that inflationary pressures continue to keep building in the euro area.
Official data showed this week that producer price inflation in Germany, the biggest Eurozone economy, hit a record high in March on the back of runaway energy prices. Prices rose 30.9 percent year-on-year following a 25.9 percent increase in February.
Energy prices are expected to stay elevated as European countries plan to reduce their dependence on Russian gas and oil.
According to the Purchasing Managers’ survey, conducted in March, there were sustained increases in both input costs and output prices, across eurozone, as firms sought to at least partly share the burden of rising operating expenses with their clients. In both cases, rates of inflation accelerated markedly to new survey records.
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