Financial News

Inflation falls in Europe – but economy is lacklustre

Inflation in the European Union fell 0.5% in July, leaving the annual rate down 0.4% to an average 2.5%.

The lowest annual rates were in Sweden (0.7%), Greece (0.9%), Germany and Latvia (both 1.9%), while the highest were in Hungary (5.7%), Malta (4.2%) and Estonia (4.1%).

Compared with June 2012, annual inflation fell in 12 countries, remained stable in one and rose in 14.

The lowest 12-month averages up to July 2012 were in Sweden (1.0%), Ireland (1.6%) and Greece (1.8%), while the highest were in Hungary (4.9%), Estonia (4.6%) and Slovakia (4.1%).

The Bank of England announced inflation in the UK was up 0.2% to 2.6% in July.

Inflation in the eurozone countries fell 0.4% in July, leaving the annual rate down 0.2% to an average 2.4%.

The highest annual inflation rates in July came from alcohol and tobacco (4.7%), housing (3.8%) and transport costs (3.2%), while the lowest annual rates were for communications (-3.1%), education (0.7%) and recreation and culture (1.0%).

Global economy faces four sticky years

Meanwhile, other European Union economic indicators returned some disappointing results.

Industrial dropped 0.6% in the eurozone in June, and 0.9% in the wider European Union.

The global economy faces four sticky years as the eurozone crisis rumbles on, according to a report by the Centre for Economics and Business Research think tank.

CEBR forecasts worsening recession in Europe and a slowdown in other leading economies, like the US, China and India.

The predictions came as official figures showed the Greek economy shrank 6.2% year-on-year until the end of July 2012.

Japan’s economy nudged up by just 0.3% in the second quarter of this year – half the pace expected.

“An emerging markets slowdown coincides with recession in the eurozone and stuttering progress in the US recovery,” said CEBR’s Tim Ohlenburg.

“The broad-based deceleration in economic growth is now also hurting exporting nations such as Germany and Japan.

“Both 2012 and 2013 look like difficult years for the world economy.”

Europe’s north and south divide

City analysts commented that Europe continues to show a slightly better than expected performance from Northern Europe, while the South is still floundering.

Azad Zangana, European Economist at Schroders,, said: “Eurozone aggregate growth numbers were in line with consensus expectations, despite better than expected numbers from Germany, France and the Netherlands.

“German GDP growth slowed from 0.5% to 0.3% in the second quarter, slightly above consensus estimates of 0.2% thanks to a positive contribution from net exports and household consumption.

“French GDP stalled for the third consecutive quarter as exports helped stop the economy from shrinking. A  0.1% contraction was expected. The other upside surprise came from the Netherlands, where the economy grew at an unchanged rate of 0.2%, beating expectations of a 0.3% contraction.

“Negative surprises came from Portugal, contracting by 1.2%, and Finland contracting by 1%, and we had already had weak data from Spain (-0.4%), Italy (-0.7) and Belgium (-0.6%).

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