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Euro zone inflation confirmed at 4.1% on energy spike

Euro zone inflation rose 0.8% month-on-month in October, for a 4.1% year-on-year surge

Euro zone inflation surged to more than twice the European Central Bank’s target in October, the European Union’s statistics office Eurostat confirmed today.

More than half of the jump was due to a spike in energy prices.Eurostat said inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.8% month-on-month in October, for a 4.1% year-on-year surge, in line with an earlier Eurostat estimate.

The ECB wants to keep inflation at 2% over the medium term and has said the inflation surge was temporary.

The bank expects price growth to slow during 2022, but admitted it would take longer than initially expected.

Breaking down the year-on-year total, more expensive energy added 2.21 percentage points, services added 0.86 points, food alcohol and tobacco added 0.43 points and non energy industrial goods 0.55 points, Eurostat said.

Without the volatile energy and unprocessed food prices, a measure the ECB calls core inflation, prices rose 0.3% on the month for a 2.1% year-on-year gain.

An even narrower measure, looked at by many economists, that additionally excludes alcohol and tobacco showed prices rising 0.3% on the month, but only 2% on the year.

Lithuania saw the highest price rises in October, with an inflation rate of 8.2%.

With inflation already twice its target and likely rising further later this year, the ECB is coming under increased pressure to abandon its ultra easy monetary policy and tackle price growth that is eroding households’ purchasing power.

But tightening monetary policy now could choke off the post-pandemic economic recovery, ECB President Christine Lagarde said earlier this week, pushing back on calls and market bets for tighter policy.

The European Central Bank must be “attentive” and “vigilant” with regard to inflation as a lingering price shock could seep into underlying price growth via wages, ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos said today.

Luis de Guindos, the ECB’s Vice President

De Guindos said that inflation expectations remain anchored but if industrial bottlenecks last longer than now expected and energy prices continue to rise, inflation could exceed projections and put pressure on wages.

“We have to attentive, we have to be very vigilant, we have to avoid as much as possible these second round effects,” de Guindos told a news conference.”It’s very important to avoid this wage-price spiral,” he added.

Figures from the Central Statistics Office last week showed that Irish consumer prices were 5.1% higher in October of this year compared with the same time last year.

The CSO said this marked the largest annual change in prices since April 2007.

Higher energy prices were the main reason behind the escalating rate of inflation, with petrol prices up 22%, while diesel prices increased by 25% and home heating oil jumped by 71% last month compared to October last year.

Electricity prices were up 15.5%, while gas prices saw a 23% hike, the CSO added.

Meanwhile, UK inflation surged to a 10-year high last month as household energy bills rocketed, bolstering expectations that the Bank of England will raise interest rates next month.

UK consumer prices rose by 4.2% in annual terms in October, leaping from a 3.1% increase in September, the latest ONS figures show.

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