BRUSSELS Jan 4 Rising prices for food and
services offset a drop in energy costs in the euro zone in
December and kept inflation steady despite expectations of a
fall, potentially signalling a slight pick-up in holiday
spending over Christmas.
Annual inflation in the 17 countries sharing the euro was
2.2 percent in December, the same level as in November, the EU's
statistics office Eurostat said on Friday, and above the 2.1
percent level forecast by economists in a Reuters poll.
Consumer food prices climbed 3.1 percent in the month,
rising slightly from November, while the cost of services, which
makes up 40 percent of Eurostat's index, also increased.
Energy prices rose 5.2 percent, compared to a 5.7 percent
rise in November and marking a gradual fall since December 2011.
Falling world energy prices and Europeans' reluctance to
spend as the euro zone struggles through recession have brought
the bloc's consumer price levels down over the past year.
Many economists expect inflation to fall to below the
European Central Bank's target of close to, but not above, 2
percent during 2013.