As European Central Bank prepares to start its stimulus, decline in eurozone prices slows

Industries Associated Press

Official figures show that the fall in consumer prices across the 19-country eurozone eased in February, a development that may assuage market concerns that the region is set to suffer a pronounced period of deflation.

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Eurostat, the EU's statistics agency, says Monday that annual consumer price inflation in February was minus 0.3 percent, half the rate recorded in January.

Still, the eurozone has suffered three consecutive monthly declines and getting inflation back toward target remains the European Central Bank's primary policy motive. It's due to start a massive bond-buying program this month as part of a drive to get inflation back toward its target of just below 2 percent.

Separately, Eurostat reported that unemployment across the eurozone fell to 11. 2 percent in January, its lowest level since April 2012.