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Eurozone Inflation Unexpectedly Slows; Jobless Rate Steady

Eurozone inflation slowed in March, defying expectations for stability, while the unemployment rate remained unchanged in February, preliminary data from the statistical office Eurostat showed on Monday.

Headline inflation slowed to 1.4 percent from 1.5 percent in February. Economists had expected the inflation rate to remain unchanged. In January, price growth was 1.4 percent.

Core inflation, which excludes prices of energy, food, alcohol and tobacco, eased to 0.8 percent in March from 1 percent in February. Economists had expected the rate to remain unchanged.

In March, an acceleration in energy inflation, from 3.6 percent to 5.3 percent, was offset by a slowing in the pace of price growth in food, alcohol and tobacco, from 2.3 percent to 1.8 percent.

Services costs grew 1.1 percent year-on-year versus 1.4 percent in February. Prices of non-energy industrial goods edged up 0.2 percent after a 0.4 percent increase in the previous month.

The full data for March inflation is scheduled for release on April 17.

Separately, the Eurostat reported that the euro area jobless rate was 7.8 percent in February, same as in January. That was in line with economists' expectations.

The unemployment rate is now at the lowest rate recorded in the euro area since October 2008. A year ago, the jobless rate was 8.5 percent.

The number of unemployed was 12.73 million in February, down by 77,000 persons from January, and by 1.169 million from a year ago.

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