After Germany and Spain, France also registered a slowdown in inflation in December on lower energy prices, softening pressure on the European Central Bank to tighten policy at an aggressive pace. Though price pressures eased, they remain high and French households were less confident about their economic prospects in December.
France’s EU harmonized inflation slowed to 6.7 percent in December from 7.1 percent in the previous month, provisional data from the statistical office INSEE showed on Wednesday. Inflation was expected to climb to 7.2 percent.
Similarly, inflation based on the consumer price index, or CPI, eased to 5.9 percent in December from 6.2 percent in the previous month. Prices have increased at the slowest pace in three months, while economists had forecast the inflation rate to advance to 6.4 percent.
Energy prices surged 15.1 percent annually, which was slower than the 18.4 percent rise registered in November. Food price inflation held steady at 12.1 percent.
Manufactured products prices gained at a faster pace of 4.6 percent, while growth in services cost eased marginally to 2.9 percent.
The monthly comparison of consumer prices showed a 0.1 percent drop in December, in contrast to the 0.3 percent increase in November.
Over a month, the harmonized index of consumer prices, or HICP, also slid 0.1 percent, reversing November’s 0.4 percent increase. Final data for December is due on January 13.
Germany and Spain also registered slowdown in inflation at the end of the year.
Harmonized inflation in the biggest euro area economy slowed to 9.6 percent from 11.3 percent in November, thanks to a one-off measure by the government to share the monthly energy bill of the public.
In Spain, EU harmonized inflation eased to 5.6 percent from 6.6 percent in the previous month.
Last December, the ECB slowed the pace of its policy tightening by opting to hike interest rates by 50 basis points, after it had raised them by 75 basis points each in the previous two meetings in September.
French consumer confidence weakened slightly in December, separate data from INSEE showed Wednedsay. The corresponding index dropped to 82 from 83 in November.
Households’ view about past and future financial situation lost five points and one point, respectively. The share of households who think it is a good idea to save was down slightly again, by 2 points.
While the opinion of households on their capacity to save in the future increased one point, while the balance of opinion on current savings capacity dropped one point.
The balances of opinion on past and future living standards were almost stable.
Consumers’ fears about unemployment declined notably in December. The corresponding index lost three points. The share of households who assessed prices to accelerate over the next twelve months gained two points.