Consumer prices provisionally rose 0.3 percent on the month in December. The increase left the annual inflation rate unchanged at 1.2 percent and so equalled its highest mark since last January.
The flash HICP was slightly firmer, advancing 0.4 percent versus November for a yearly gain of 1.3 percent, up a tick from its mid-quarter print.
For the CPI, the steady annual rate masked falls in both food (1.3 percent from 1.5 percent) and energy (5.1 percent from 5.4 percent) suggesting that underlying inflation firmed a little. The rate in services was flat at 1.0 percent but deflation in manufacturing eased marginally from 0.2 percent to 0.1 percent.
In the main, consumer prices remain soft but inflation is slowly creeping back into the system. Manufacturing remains a negative factor but even here the yearly rate has increased almost a full percentage point since December 2016. Nonetheless, any sharp acceleration in the underlying rate will require a much stronger labour market. Despite recent falls, at 9.4 percent, the French jobless rate was almost a full percentage point above the Eurozone average in November 2017.