Rise in eurozone inflation rate to 0.9 percent in Nov eases pressure on ECB to do more

Inflation in the 17-country eurozone rose modestly in November, official figures showed Friday, in a development that may ease pressure on the European Central Bank to loosen its monetary policy further next week.

Eurostat, the EU's statistics office, estimated that consumer prices were up 0.9 percent in the year to November. That was up from October's 0.7 percent rate and slightly ahead of market expectations for 0.8 percent.

At first glance, it appears that higher prices in the services sector and a less marked fall in energy costs during the month were behind the rise in the overall inflation rate.

Still, inflation remains well below the ECB's target of just under 2 percent. It was the sharp fall in October that spurred the central bank this month to cut its main interest rate to a record low of 0.25 percent. The drop had raised fears of deflation, a debilitating condition for an economy in which falling prices cause a protracted slide in consumer spending.

Economists had predicted that a further fall in inflation below October's three-year low would have pushed the ECB to act again at next week's monthly policy meeting. Now, they think it's more likely that the ECB will stay pat, especially as a separate survey pointed to some improvements in the labor market.

Eurostat said unemployment across the eurozone eased from September's record high of 12.2 percent to 12.1 percent in October.

Though the overall unemployment rate masks huge disparities across the eurozone, Eurostat revealed that the number of people unemployed in the region fell by 61,000 to 19.30 million during the month.