Consumer prices provisionally rose a stronger than expected 1.0 percent on the month in March. The end of the quarter typically sees a seasonal bounce but this year's spike was particularly sharp and steep enough to lift the annual inflation rate by 0.3 percentage to 1.5 percent.
The flash HICP was even stronger, increasing a monthly 1.1 percent, lifting its yearly rate by 0.4 percentage points to 1.7 percent.
However, much of the monthly gain in the annual headline CPI rate was attributable to higher food costs which were up some 1.5 percent after a 0.8 percent increase last time. In addition, tobacco (16.6 percent after 4.9 percent) was significantly more expensive. Service sector inflation accelerated from 1.1 to 1.4 percent but manufacturing fell back into deflation as prices were 0.4 percent lower on the year, having edged up 0.1 percent in mid-quarter.
Overall, the signs are that core inflation remains quite sluggish which will not please the ECB if, as seems probable, the economy has started to slow this quarter.