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Business

Inflation nudges slightly up in Germany

According to preliminary figures, Germany's inflation rate is back up after a flat February, thanks to consumer prices. But low energy prices are keeping it near zero, far below the target.

Germany's statistics office Destatis released a preliminary estimate of the country's inflation rate in March, showing that rising food, service and rent prices barely offset persistently low energy prices.

The consumer price index - Germany's measure for national inflation - ticked up 0.3 percent in March, compared to the same month last year.

The inflation rate rose more modestly according to the measure used by the European Central Bank (ECB), the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP). It tracked only a 0.1 percent increase in March.

In either case, the numbers were up from

February.

The consumer price index measured inflation last month at zero percent, and the HICP put it at negative 0.2 percent.

But March's numbers remained far below the 2 percent inflation rate desired by the ECB. This is despite the bank's

massive effort

to buy bonds and cut interest rates to fend off deflationary pressure.

Energy prices are largely to blame. Consumers were paying on average 8.9 percent less than in the same month one year ago.

Prices have since risen 1.3 percent for groceries and 1.6 percent for services.

jtm/uhe (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

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