BRUSSELS Euro zone consumer prices grew faster than expected in December, an estimate from the European Union's statistics office Eurostat showed on Wednesday, driven mainly by higher costs of energy, as well as food, alcohol and tobacco and services.
Eurostat said prices in the 19 countries sharing the euro rose 1.1 percent year-on-year last month, sharply accelerating from a 0.6 percent annual, increase in November and 0.5 percent in October.
The European Central Bank wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2 percent and has been buying 60 billion euros worth of euro zone government bonds each month to inject more cash into the banking system and stimulate price rises in the economy.
Eurostat estimated that energy prices jumped 2.5 percent year-on-year in December, the first rise in more than a year, while food alcohol and tobacco prices rose 1.2 percent and services were also 1.2 percent more expensive than a year earlier.
The factor that held inflation down was non-energy industrial goods, the prices of which rose only 0.3 percent year-on-year, the same as in the four previous months.
(Reporting By Jan Strupczewski; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)