BRUSSELS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Euro zone consumer price growth slowed as expected in February, data showed on Wednesday, but the core rate of inflation that the European Central Bank watches closely for interest rate decisions held stable.
The European Union’s statistics office estimated that inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro was 1.2 percent year-on-year in February, down from 1.3 percent in January. The ECB wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2 percent.
But the core inflation measure, which strips out the volatile prices of energy and unprocessed food, held stable at 1.2 percent year-on-year in February, pointing to a more permanent pick-up in inflationary pressure.
The ECB has been buying billions of euros of government bonds on the secondary market to inject more cash into the economy and in this way accelerate price growth to closer to its target.
Another core inflation measure that many market economists look at, which excludes also the prices of alcohol and tobacco, also held stable at 1.0 percent year-on-year.
Energy prices grew by 2.1 percent year-on-year, similar to the 2.2 percent rate in January, but unprocessed food prices fell 0.9 percent, compared with a 1.1 percent rise in January.
Eurostat’s first estimate of inflation does not include a month-on-month figure.
For details of Eurostat data click on:
here (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)