Consumer prices fell in the eurozone for the first time since 2009, according to official data released on Wednesday, putting further pressure on the European Central Bank to act to prevent a downward price spiral that could further damage the fragile banking sector and undermine growth for years to come.
Consumer prices in the eurozone contracted by 0.2 percent in December compared with a year earlier, according to a preliminary report from Eurostat, the European Union’s statistics agency. Even before the recent collapse in oil prices, inflation in the region had been falling amid slack spending by consumers and businesses that makes it difficult for companies to raise prices.
A separate report from Eurostat showed that the eurozone jobless rate was unchanged at 11.5 percent in November. For the 28-nation European Union, the unemployment rate was 10 percent, down from 10.1 percent in October.
By DAVID JOLLY & JACK EWING – New York Times –