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Euro zone inflation confirmed at 2.0 percent in June

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Annual inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro currency rose to 2.0 percent in June, European Union statistics office Eurostat said on Wednesday, confirming an earlier flash estimate.

The data is a welcome sign for the European Central Bank (ECB) as it seeks to wind down bond purchases, although volatile energy prices were the main driver behind inflation’s growth.

Excluding rises in prices for energy and unprocessed food, the ECB’s definition of core inflation, annual inflation came in at 1.2 percent, also leaving out tobacco sales, inflation was 0.9 percent.

The ECB said last month it expects to end its 2.6 trillion euro ($3.00 trillion) bond-buying program at the end of the year but to keep interest rates at their current, record low level “through the summer of 2019”, leading investors to price in a hike in October of next year.

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Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop