French inflation hits new record of 5.8% in May

People walk at the financial and business district of La Defense in Courbevoie
People walk at the financial and business district of La Defense in Courbevoie near Paris, France, January 31, 2022. REUTERS/Sarah Meyssonnier

PARIS, May 31 (Reuters) - French inflation rose more than expected in May to a new record, preliminary EU-harmonised data showed on Friday, putting pressure on President Emmanuel Macron ahead of legislative elections this month.

The INSEE statistics agency said consumer prices rose 0.7% in May for a 12-month inflation rate of 5.8%, up from 5.4% in April to hit the highest rate since France began using European Union methodology to calculate the readings in the early 1990s.

A Reuters poll of eight economists had expected on average for inflation to rise to 5.6%. (FRCPIP=ECI)

Tackling high inflation is at the top of France's political agenda and Macron's government has promised a fresh round of measures to support purchasing power after the elections.

France has so far managed to keep inflation lower than in all other EU countries apart from Malta thanks to a 25 billion euro package of measures consisting in large part of costly caps on gas and electricity price increases.

INSEE said annual inflation as measured by France's national consumer price index rose to 5.2% in May from 4.8% in April, hitting its highest since September 1985. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 5.0% on average in May.

The national index is more closely followed in France, while the EU-harmonised index is used outside it to compare inflation rates among countries using the euro.

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; Editing by Lincoln Feast.

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