Consumer prices provisionally increased at a 0.4 percent monthly rate in March. This put the annual inflation rate at 0.9 percent, a 0.3 percentage point rise versus its final February rate but still short of the 1 percent mark for a fifth consecutive month.
The flash HICP is seasonally very strong in March but a 2.5 percent monthly jump was unusually large and enough to lift its annual rate by 0.4 percentage points to 1.1 percent.
The acceleration in the annual CPI rate was mainly driven by food (2.5 percent after 1.3 percent), tobacco (2.2 percent after 0.3 percent) and transport services (2.5 percent after 1.9 percent). By contrast energy (3.0 percent after 3.7 percent) had a negative impact. Even so, the core rate, which excludes fresh food and energy, increased from 0.6 percent to 0.9 percent.
Despite March's acceleration, retailers continue to struggle to sustain any meaningful increases in product or service prices. With consumer demand soft, Italian inflation is likely to remain below the Eurozone average through year-end.