ROME Jan 3 Consumer inflation in Italy eased
slightly in December on an annual basis and remained stable in
Spain, according to preliminary data on Friday which highlighted
concern at continuing weakness in prices in the euro zone.
European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said at the
weekend that the ECB wanted to ensure that inflation in the euro
zone did not drift into what he called a "danger zone" below one
But with both Italy and Spain struggling to emerge from
recession, the data underlined the sickly state of their
economies with consumer spending held back by soaring
unemployment and declining incomes.
Annual Italian EU-harmonised consumer price inflation (HICP)
for December declined to 0.6 percent from 0.7 percent in
November, slightly under a forecast for a 0.7 percent rise in a
Reuters survey of analysts. Over the year as a whole, the
average inflation rate dropped to 1.3 percent, compared with 3.3
percent in 2012, statistics agency ISTAT said.
Month-on-month, prices showed a 0.3 percent rise on an
EU-harmonised basis, compared with a -0.3 percent drop the month
before, the data showed.
The figures came after Spain's National Statistics Institute
(INE) reported that Spanish EU-harmonised consumer prices rose
by 0.3 percent year-on-year in December, compared with a Reuters
forecast of 0.4 percent and previous reading of 0.3 percent.
INE data also showed Spain's national consumer price index
rose by 0.2 percent in December on an annual basis, the same
rate as in the previous month.
On average of the whole of 2013, the Italian data showed
decelerating prices in almost all segments, underlining the
sluggishness across the Italian economy.
Prices for transport services rose 1.2 percent over the year
against a 6.5 percent rise in 2012, housing and utilities prices
rose 2 percent against a 7.1 percent rise in the previous year
and food prices rose 2.2 percent against 2.6 percent the