LONDON: Inflation in Europe hit a record high for the fourth month in a row, raising questions about when the central bank should step in to ease the pain to people's wallets while Russia's invasion of Ukraine rattles the global economy.
Consumer prices in the 19 countries that use the euro currency increased by an annual 5.8 per cent in February, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported on Wednesday. The latest numbers underscore continuing pain for the continent's consumers and piles more pressure on the European Central Bank as it grapples with when and how to raise interest rates to ease inflation.
The latest inflation reading smashed the record of 5.1 per cent set last month to reach the highest level since recordkeeping for the euro started in 1997. Inflation in Europe, as in other major economies, has been fueled by surging energy prices, and the problem will be complicated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.
Russia, a major oil and gas producer, has been hit with sanctions and export restrictions that have raised worries that supplies could be cut off, though that hasn't yet materialised.