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Euro zone inflation up to 1.2% in February

  Annual inflation in the euro zone rose slightly to 1.2% in February, the EU’s statistics bureau Eurostat said on Monday, confirming a previous estimate.

It was up from 1.1% in January but significantly lower than 3.3% a year earlier. Recent months saw inflation in the euro zone retreat from its peak last summer thanks to fall of oil prices. In February, energy prices in the euro zone dropped by 4.9% from the same period of 2008.

The main components with the highest annual rates in February were alcohol and tobacco, up by 3.2%, while the lowest annual rates were observed for transport, down by 2.7%.

The continuous easing of the inflationary pressure paved way for the European Central Bank (ECB) to reduce its benchmark interest rate to support economy which has been in deep recession amid the financial crisis.

In its latest move, the Frankfurt-based ECB cut its rate further early this month by another half percentage point to 1.5%, the lowest level since the bank came into being in 1999.

In the 27-nation EU, annual inflation was 1.7% in February, down from 1.8% in January and 3.5% a year earlier.

Among those member states whose data were available, the lowest annual rates were observed in Ireland and Portugal, both at 0.1%, and the highest in Latvia, which was 9.4%. (Xinhua)