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Eurozone Inflation Hits Four-Year High in February

Inflation across the 19-country euro area hit a four-year high of 2.0 percent in February thanks to soaring prices of energy, said Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Union (EU) on Thursday.

The latest inflation figure is expected to stir mixed reactions in Brussels as the bloc has struggled for years to reach an inflation target of "close to but below 2.0 percent."

The European Central Bank (ECB) has been under pressure to rein in its massive stimulus measures since inflation rose dramatically in December 2016. The bank said earlier it would take no action in response to temporary changes.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile items such as energy and food, stood at a low level of merely 0.9 percent in February.

February's rise in eurozone consumer price inflation put it in line with the ECB's 2.0 percent price stability ceiling for the first time since January 2013, but underlying price pressures remain subdued, said Jennifer McKeown, chief European economist at Capital Economics.

The figure was in line with the forecast consensus and left the rate at its highest in over four years but the pick-up entirely reflected higher energy and food inflation, said McKeown.

Recent activity indicators suggested that underlying inflationary pressures may pick up and the ECB was likely to carry out this year's asset purchases as planned, McKeown added.

In December, the ECB extended its bond buying program by nine months until the end of 2017, aiming to further shore up the bloc's growth and push the inflation to reach the target.

From April, the bank will buy only 60 billion euros (64 billion U.S. dollars) of bonds a month, rather than 80 billion euros. (1 euro = 1.05 U.S. dollars)

Source: Xinhua
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Eurozone Inflation Hits Four-Year High in February
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