ekonomska kriza - novac.jpg
Photograph: Freeimages.com/sanja gjenero

The prices of goods and services in the eurozone fell by 0.2 per cent year-on-year in February, pushing inflation back into negative territory, according to an estimate released Monday by the EU statistics agency Eurostat.

Fears of deflation have dogged the 19-country European currency bloc, which has also been struggling to rev up its economy after emerging from recession more than two years ago.

Analysts had expected prices to rise by 0.1 per cent.

If confirmed, it will be the first time the data has slipped back into negative territory after the European Central Bank (ECB) ramped up its efforts in December to stave off a prolonged period of deflation.

ECB chief Mario Draghi has indicated that the Frankfurt-based bank could take further action in March. Its goal is to keep inflation just below 2 per cent.

February's inflation data was dragged down by falling energy prices, which contracted 8 per cent year-on-year, compared to 5.4 per cent in January.

The biggest year-on-year increases were seen in services, followed by food, alcohol and tobacco prices and non-energy industrial goods, according to the preliminary data.

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