Inflation fed by high oil and gas prices hit record levels in Europe for the third month in a row, extending pain for consumers and sharpening questions about future moves by the European Central Bank, writes greenwichtime.com.
The 19 countries that use the euro currency saw consumer prices increase by an annual 5.1% in January, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat reported Wednesday. The figure broke records of 5% in December and 4.9% in November and was the highest since recordkeeping started in 1997.
Once again, soaring energy prices played a major role, rising a painful 28.6%. Oil prices have spiked as the global economy recovers from the worst of COVID-19 restrictions, while natural gas prices have surged in Europe because of depleted winter reserves, lower supplies from Russia and fears of a renewed military move by Moscow against Ukraine.
Higher energy bills for consumers have quickly become a political issue in Europe as governments roll out subsidies and tax breaks to soften the blow to household budgets. Higher inflation makes it more expensive for people to buy everything from food to fuel and has been one factor holding back Europe’s recovery.
For example, gasoline prices in Germany have hit a record 1.712 euros per liter, the country’s ADAC motoring association said Wednesday. That is the equivalent of USD 7.31 per gallon.