Lower energy costs kept a lid on inflation across the 19-country eurozone economy in the year to December.

Official figures Tuesday show that consumer price inflation held steady at 0.2 percent for the second month running. The rate was positive for a third month in a row but below market expectations for a modest increase to 0.3 percent.

Energy prices once again kept inflation way below the European Central Bank's target of just below 2 percent. Eurostat said annual energy costs were 5.9 percent lower. Still, that drop was the smallest since July as year-before effects fall out of the annual comparison.

Low inflation is the main reason why the ECB has embarked on a series of stimulus measures over the past year.