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Services, energy drive euro zone March inflation higher

·1-min read

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Euro zone inflation accelerated as initially estimated in March, driven mainly by more expensive services and energy, data from the European Union's statistics office Eurostat showed on Friday. 

  Eurostat confirmed its earlier estimates that consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 0.9% month-on-month for a 1.3% year-on-year increase, accelerating from a 0.9% year-on-year rate in January and February. 

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

  Services were the main driver of the rise, adding 0.57 percentage points to the overall result, while volatile energy prices added 0.43 points. Food, alcohol and tobacco added another 0.24 points. 

  Without the volatile energy and food prices — a measure the ECB calls core inflation — prices rose 0.8% on the month and 1.0% year-on-year, both as initial reported. 

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  An even narrower measure excluding alcohol and tobacco, which many economists look at, showed prices rising 1.0% on the month and 0.9% in annual terms. Both core measures showed a deceleration of price growth from previous months. 

  The ECB has been expecting a spike in headline inflation because of base effects and temporary factors, warning that inflation may even exceed its target by the close of the year. 

  But it said it will look beyond what it expects to be a temporary spike when it sets policy, the key element being its programme of bond buying on the secondary market, as it then sees inflation languishing beneath its target for years to come. 

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  (Reporting by Jan Strupczewski; editing by Philip Blenkinsop)