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Cheaper energy pushes euro zone inflation to four-year low in September

·1-min read

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone annual inflation fell for the second month running to a four-year low in September, the European Union's statistics office Eurostat confirmed on Friday, mainly as a result of a sharp drop in volatile energy prices.

Eurostat said consumer inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro was plus 0.1% month-on-month in September for a 0.3% year-on-year fall after a 0.2% annual price decline in August - in line with initial estimates released at the start of October.

Food, alcohol and tobacco added 0.34 percentage points to the final results, Eurostat said and services add another 0.24 points, but an 8.2% year-on-year plunge in energy prices subtracted 0.81 percentage point from the final number.

Without the volatile energy and unprocessed food prices, or what the European Central Bank (ECB) calls core inflation, prices rose 0.1% month-on-month and 0.4% year-on-year.

An even narrower measure that also excludes alcohol and tobacco showed 0.2% rises both month-on-month and year-on-year.

The ECB wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2% over the medium term.

Separately, Eurostat said the unadjusted trade surplus of the 19 countries sharing the euro was 14.7 billion euros ($17.2 billion), similar to the 14.4 billion a year earlier, and close to the 15.1 billion expected by economist polled by Reuters.

Adjusted for seasonal swings, the trade surplus was 21.9 billion euros in August, up from 19.3 billion in July as exports rose 2% and imports edged up 0.5% month-on-month.

(Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)