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Price Gains Ease in Europe but Core Inflation Keeps Policymakers ‘Up at Night’


A new year has brought Europe a little bit of good fortune. Unusually mild, even warm, weather has helped pull down natural gas prices after they soared for much of last year and sent inflation rates to record highs, upending the region’s economy.With this luck in mind, analysts have strengthened their conviction that European inflation, the highest in generations, has peaked. Data earlier this month showed that consumer prices in the eurozone rose at an annual rate of 9.2 percent in December, down from 10.1 percent in November. That overall rate, also known as headline inflation, was lower in all but two of the 19 economies that used the euro in December.These signs of slowing inflation will bring some relief to consumers — but won’t ease the concerns of central bankers tasked with getting inflation back to their 2 percent target. That’s because they are closely watching another measure of inflation that continues to climb.That measure is called “core inflation,” and the uncertainty about where it is heading is “what keeps the European Central Bank up at night right now,” said Oliver Rakau, chief German economist at Oxford Economics.There …

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