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Soaring energy prices drives inflation to a new high across Eurozone

Energy only makes up about 10% of household spending in the EU, with about 40% going to services and 20% to food, alcohol and tobacco.

(CN) — In the weeks leading up to Russia’s Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, energy inflation hit 31.7%, driving rising inflation rates across the 19 nations that use the euro, up to a record high 5.8% in February, according to the European Union's statistics agency Eurostat.

This marks the highest inflation rate since recordkeeping began in 1997.

Europe relies heavily on the oil and gas that flows between Russia and Ukraine. The EU imports more than a quarter of its crude oil from Russia, along with 46% of solid fuel and 40% of natural gas.

Costs of energy imports has been on the rise for a year, spiking 72.1% between December 2020 and December 2021, from 221.3 billion euros ($250.9 billion) to 380.8 billion euros ($431.8 billion).

Inflation in the energy sector continued to increase across the euro area in 2022, from 28.8% in January to 31.7% in February. During the same period, processed food, alcohol and tobacco prices rose just 3.5% and unprocessed food by 6.1%. Price in the services sector rose 2.5%. Overall, energy’s contribution to inflation was higher than all other factors combined.

Energy only makes up about 10% of household spending, with about 40% going to services and 20% to food, alcohol and tobacco.

Luxembourg reported the highest monthly increase in inflation, up 2.4 points from January to 7.8%. At 13.9%, Lithuania recorded the highest February inflation rate in the euro area, followed by Ireland at 12.4%.

Inflation remained at or below 4.3% in Finland, Malta and France.

The EU’s Winter 2022 forecast anticipated rising inflation through the first two quarters of the year, driven by supply chain bottlenecks and surges in energy prices. Increasing inflation rates in January and February have already surpassed the union’s projected quarterly peak of 4.8%. However, that snapshot was taken before Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

In early February, the U.S. recorded a 7.5% inflation rate, the nation’s highest yearly increase since 1982.

And things aren't likely to change in March: On Wednesday, crude oil hit a seven-year high of $106 per barrel, up from $94 just a few weeks ago. Some analysts feared Russia’s invasion of Ukraine would push prices higher than $150 a barrel.

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Categories / Economy, International

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