Euro zone joblessness at record high in May, June inflation up

People enter an unemployment registry office in Mataro near Barcelona June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino

People enter an unemployment registry office in Mataro near Barcelona June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino


BRUSSELS  - Euro zone unemployment was at a record high in May, but consumer prices rose in June for a second month in a row and staved off the threat of deflation in the bloc's sickly economy.

Consumer price inflation in the 17-nation euro zone, which is suffering from its longest ever recession, increased to 1.6 percent year-on-year in June from 1.4 percent in May, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said on Monday.

That was the second month of gains from a low of 1.2 percent in April, although the June reading is still below the European Central Bank's target of close to, but not above, 2 percent.

Prices of food, alcohol and tobacco products were the key factor driving inflation in June, followed by energy and services, Eurostat said in its first, flash estimate.

The ECB said last week it will not end its accommodative policy stance, leaving it in place to help a gradual recovery that is expected to start in the second half of this year.

The ECB holds a monetary policy meeting on Thursday, though it is expected to hold interest rates at the current record lows for the foreseeable future.

In a sign of the weak economy, unemployment in the bloc stood at a record 12.1 percent, a touch above the revised figure of 12.0 percent in April, but below Eurostat's earlier reading of 12.2 percent. It was lower than a forecast by economists polled by Reuters, who saw a reading of 12.3 percent in May.

Germany saw its jobless rate fall to 5.3 percent in the month, the second lowest in the single currency area after Austria at 4.7 percent. Italy and Spain saw a modest increase in joblessness, while unemployment in France was unchanged.

European Union leaders reiterated last week they would step up the fight against unemployment, which stood at 19.2 million in the euro zone in May, and agreed to launch a special scheme for young jobless Europeans.

(Reuters) | Mon Jul 1, 2013 5:28am EDT reuters_logo_sm

(Reporting by Martin Santa; Editing by Adrian Croft)


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