Inflation slows in France, rises in Italy

PARIS: Inflation in France eased further in March while it accelerated but remained low in Italy, official data showed Friday, fuelling hopes of interest rate cuts in coming months.
French inflation fell to 2.3 percent, down from 3.0 percent in February, according to provisional figures from the INSEE statistics institute.
Food price inflation slowed sharply last month to 1.7 percent compared to 3.6 percent in February while tobacco prices increased by 10.7 percent, down from 18.7 percent in the previous month.
Consumer price rises slowed on a monthly basis to 0.2 percent in March in the eurozone‘s second largest economy after a 0.9 percent increase in February.
“This slowdown would be due to the slight drop in energy prices, particularly gas and petroleum products,” INSEE said in a statement.
In Italy, the eurozone’s third biggest economy, inflation reached 1.3 percent last month, up from 0.8 percent in February, according to the country’s Istat agency.
It was lower than the 1.5 percent forecast in a Bloomberg survey of analysts and remains well below the European Central Bank’s two-percent target for the eurozone.
Investors are closely scrutinising inflation data across eurozone countries in hopes that the ECB will start to cut rates as soon as June.
Eurozone inflation has been slowing, reaching 2.6 percent in February.
Data on Wednesday showed that inflation in eurozone member Spain accelerated in March to 3.2 percent, up from 2.8 percent in February.

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