BRUSSELS, Belgium - The energy prices increased the cost of living in the euro area last February, just as when the plants showed signs of recovery.
The energy costs rose by 9.5% annual rate in the second month of the year and this contributed to estimates that consumer prices would rise to 2.7%, according to the harmonized inflation figures released Wednesday by the European statistics office, Eurostat.
Although inflation remains below last year’s ceiling of 3%, economists and the European Central Bank forecasted a decline in 2012 before the entry into the euro zone recession.
Lower prices could have provided relief to households despite the steadily rising unemployment rate.
“Inflation is becoming more persistent than expected, mainly because oil prices,” said Marco Valli, chief economist at UniCredit euro zone, in a note to clients before the announcement of the indicator.
Prices rose for all goods and services in February, except for communications and education.
The tension between the West and Iran over Tehran’s nuclear program has caused a rise in oil prices amid a slowdown in world growth.
Industrial production in the euro zone rose by 0.2% in January after falling 1.1% the previous month, said Wednesday’s statistics agency Eurostat.
In annual terms, industrial production fell 1.2% versus 1.8% decline in December.