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Greek consumer prices fall 0.7 pct y/y in March, back in deflation

ATHENS, April 8 (Reuters) - Greece's annual EU-harmonised
inflation rate turned negative in March after a positive reading
in February, statistics service data showed on Friday.
    The reading in March was -0.7 percent after 0.1 percent in
February. Consumer prices were led lower by apparel, footwear,
housing, durable goods and transportation costs.
    Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a zero
EU-harmonised inflation rate in March.
    The data also showed the headline consumer price index fell
1.5 percent year-on-year, with the annual pace of deflation
picking up from -0.5 percent in February.
    Economists polled by Reuters had forecast a negative 0.5
percent headline inflation rate, unchanged from February.
    For years an inflation outlier in the euro zone, Greece had
been in deflation mode for the last two and a half years as wage
and pension cuts and a protracted recession took a heavy toll on
Greek household income.
    Deflation in Greece, which signed up to its first
international bailout in 2010, hit its highest level in November
2013, when consumer prices registered a 2.9 percent year-on-year
decline.
    The fall in euro area inflation slowed in March while core
figures, which strip out volatile food and energy prices,
accelerated, mildly positive news for the European Central Bank
as it struggles to revive anaemic price growth.
    Annualised inflation picked up to -0.1 percent from -0.2
percent, in line with expectations, as rising food and services
prices offset another big fall in energy costs, data from
Eurostat showed. 
    
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KEY FIGURES    MARCH  FEB   JAN   DEC   NOV   OCT   SEPT  AUGUST
CPI y/y        -1.5   -0.5  -0.7  -0.2  -0.7  -0.9  -1.7  -1.5
EU-harmonised  -0.7    0.1  -0.1  +0.4  -0.1  -0.1  -0.8  -0.4
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source: ELSTAT

 (Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)
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