Euro-area inflation slowed more than economists forecast in May, cranking up pressure on the European Central Bank to deploy measures as soon as this week to kindle prices and drive growth.

The rate fell to 0.5 percent from 0.7 percent in April, the European Union’s statistics office in Luxembourg said today. The median forecast in a Bloomberg News survey of 38 economists was for a decline to 0.6 percent. The rate has been less than half the ECB’s target for eight months.

With ECB President Mario Draghi warning about the risk of a negative price spiral, the Governing Council is considering measures from negative interest rates to conditional liquidity for banks. The central bank is also contending with high unemployment, which unexpectedly decreased in April while remaining near a record, a separate Eurostat report showed.
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