Eurozone inflation surges in December

Early estimates for the annual inflation rate for the Euro area are a rise of 0.5% in the space of one month, up to 1.1% in December, from 0.6% in November. A barrel of Brent crude oil - the North Sea benchmark - now costs over $55 per barrel, up from November lows of $44 per barrel. A strong turnaround in energy price inflation, to 2.5% from -1.1%, and a rise in food prices, to 1.2% from 0.7%, accounted for a forecast-beating December reading.

Euro zone bond yields steadied after a recent increase on Wednesday as investors digested more data confirming rising inflation across the region.

The final data on the movement of consumer prices in the Eurozone in December will be published on January 18. The consumer price index accelerated in the year-end after in November the growth of consumer prices was within 0.6%.

The European Central Bank targets core inflation of just below 2 percent for the single currency bloc.

The eurozone's low inflation rate has been a huge worry for the European Central Bank as it pushes through a massive stimulus programme to get the faltering economy back on track.

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ECB President Mario Draghi said in December that price growth remained weak, even as Executive Board member Benoit Coeure told Boersen-Zeitung last week that inflation could face upside risks. Capital Economics analyst Jennifer McKeown said she now expected a sharper increase to around 1.2 percent.

"We suspect that asset purchases (the ECB's monetary policy) will ultimately continue well into 2018", she said.

Data monitoring company IHS Markit said "political uncertainty dominates" - an apparent reference to Trump's election and continuing turmoil over Brexit.

The PMI measures companies' readiness to spend on their business and so gives a good idea of how the underlying economy is performing.

  • Douglas Reid