BRUSSELS: The eurozone annual inflation rate fell for the first time in 17 months in November as it slowed to 10 percent, official data showed Wednesday.
Boosted by soaring energy and food bills triggered by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the rate of price increases had hit a new historic record every month since November 21.
Analysts had expected the inflation rate in the single currency area to fall but the drop was steeper than predicted by Bloomberg and FactSet, who foresaw 10.4 percent.
Inflation had hit 10.6 percent in October.
But the November figure may not convince the European Central Bank that it can stop raising interest rates, as its president Christine Lagarde has expressed scepticism that inflation has peaked.
As late as Monday, Lagarde warned: “I think that there is too much uncertainty … to assume that inflation has actually reached its peak. It would surprise me.”
Analysts said the reverse in the trend could see the bank go for a smaller 50-basis-point increase in rates next month rather than the expected 75-point bump.
“We were due some good news,” said Bert Colijn, senior eurozone economist at the ING bank. “The eurozone inflation rate ticked down after a few nasty upside surprises.”
Nevertheless, he cautioned that core inflation remained stable.
“Whether this is the peak in inflation remains to be seen,” he said. “Another episode in the energy crisis could easily push inflation back up again and core inflation usually proves to be sticky after a supply shock.”
Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics, also sounded a note of caution.
“Eurozone headline inflation may now be past its peak but with core inflation unchanged in November and likely to stay well above 2 percent throughout next year, we expect the ECB to press on with another 50 basis point or even 75 basis point deposit rate hike in December,” he said.
An easing in the speed with which energy prices are rising was the main reason for the November fall in overall inflation, compensating for still accelerating food and drink costs.
Among the 19 countries that use the euro, Spain now has the lowest inflation rate, dropping to 6.6 percent compared to previous top performer France, now on 7.1