Eurozone inflation was stable during July but its core measure, which is closely watched by the European Central Bank (ECB), inched up to a four-year high against market expectations of a drop, flash estimates released by Eurostat showed Monday.
In a separate release, the European Union’s statistics office said unemployment in the 19-country currency bloc dropped to its lowest level since 2009, confirming the robust recovery of the euro zone’s economy and giving the ECB more ground for tightening its monetary policy in autumn.
Eurostat estimated that consumer prices in the euro zone were stable at 1.3 percent year-on-year in July, the same as in June and in line with forecasts of economists polled by Reuters.
But core inflation, which excludes the two most volatile components of unprocessed food and energy, went up to 1.3 percent from 1.2 percent in June, contrary to market expectations of a drop to 1.1 percent. It was its lowest level since August 2013.
Inflation grew mostly for energy products from 1.9 percent in June to an estimated 2.2 percent in July, as oil prices increased.
Consumer prices went also up for other industrial goods by 0.5 percent from a 0.4 percent inflation rate in June. Inflation was stable at 1.4 percent for food, alcohol and tobacco products, while it decreased in services to 1.5 percent from 1.6 percent.
In a separate release, Eurostat said unemployment in the euro zone fell to 9.1 percent in June from 9.2 percent in May, reaching its lowest level since February 2009 and beating market expectations of a 9.2 percent rate.
Eurostat also revised down the May unemployment figure to 9.2 percent from the previously estimated 9.3 percent.
The unemployment rate went down in Italy and Spain, the two euro zone countries with the highest rates, excluding Greece for which fresh data were not available.
In Italy unemployment dropped to 11.1 percent in June from 11.3 percent in May, meaning that nearly 60,000 were added to the Italian workforce. In Spain, the rate fell to 17.1 percent from 17.3 percent.
In Germany, the largest economy of the bloc, unemployment sunk to 3.8 percent in June from 3.9 percent the previous month, raising expectations of bigger wage rises that could strengthen growth in the euro zone a whole.
Wage growth is also closely watched by the ECB to decide its monetary policy.