Inflation in the euro zone remains extremely high. Protestors in Italy used empty shopping trolleys to demonstrate the cost-of-living crisis.
Stefano Montesi – Corbis | Corbis News | Getty Images
Euro zone inflation rose above the 10% level in the month of October, highlighting the severity of the cost-of-living crisis in the region and adding more pressure on the European Central Bank.
Preliminary data on Monday from Europe’s statistics office showed headline inflation came in at an annual 10.7% last month. This represents the highest ever monthly reading since the euro zone’s formation. The 19-member bloc has faced higher prices, particularly on energy and food, for the past 12 months. But the increases have been accentuated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February.
This proved to be the case once again, with energy costs expected to have had the highest annual rise in October, at 41.9% from 40.7% in September. Food, alcohol and tobacco prices also rose in the same period, jumping 13.1% from 11.8% in the previous month.
Monday’s data comes after individual countries reported flash estimates last week. In Italy, headline inflation came in above analysts’ expectations at 12.8% year-on-year. Germany also said inflation jumped to 11.6% and in France the number reached 7.1%. The different values reflect measures taken by national governments, as well as the level of dependency that there nations have, or had, on Russian hydrocarbons.
There are, however, euro nations where inflation rose by more than 20%. This includes Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.
The European Central Bank — whose primary target is to control inflation — on Thursday confirmed further rate hikes in the coming months in an attempt to bring prices down. It said in a statement that it had made “substantial progress” in normalizing rates in the region, but it “expects to raise interest rates further, to ensure the timely return of inflation to its 2% medium-term inflation target.”
The ECB decided to raise rates by 75 basis points for a second consecutive time last week.
Speaking at a subsequent press conference, ECB President Christine Lagarde said the likelihood of a recession in the euro zone had intensified.
Growth figures released Monday showed a GDP (gross domestic product) figure of 0.2% for the euro area in October. This is after the region grew at a rate of 0.8% in the second quarter. Only Belgium, Latvia and Austria registered GDP rates below zero.
So far, the 19-member bloc has dodged a recession but an economic slowdown is evident. Several economists predict there will be a contraction in GDP during the current quarter.
The euro traded below parity against the U.S. dollar in early European trading hours Monday and ahead of the new data releases, and barely moved after the new figures. The euro has been weaker against the greenback and that’s also something the ECB has been concerned about with concerns that this will push up inflation in the euro zone even further.