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Ukraine slashes interest rates to 14.5%, Finnish inflation slides

Sweden and Spain also saw slowing inflation, helped by food and non-alcoholic beverage prices falling, as well as clothing and footwear prices.

The National Bank of Ukraine announced its March interest rate decision on Thursday, slashing key policy rates by 50 basis points, to 14.5%. According to the central bank, steady foreign exchange rates, reducing inflation and falling risks of decreased foreign aid were behind this decision.

Price growth in Ukraine slowed more than expected to 4.3% in February 2024. However, the National Bank of Ukraine said: “The course of the full-scale war continues to be the key risk to inflation dynamics and economic development.”

The country has recently been approved for the Ukraine Facility programme by the EU, which will see Ukraine receiving about €50 billion from 2024 to 2027. Ukraine’s local currency, the hryvnia, has also been slowly regaining its footing in currency markets, which could bring good news for the economy.

Finnish inflation dips to 3%

Finnish inflation for February 2024 came out on Thursday. According to Statistics Finland, year-on-year February inflation clocked in at 3%, down from 3.3% in the previous month. Month-on-month inflation was 0.5%, up from 0.3% in January.

Year-on-year inflation was the lowest number since September 2021, and was mainly due to culture and recreation inflation rising more slowly, down at 4.2% from 4.5% in January.

Hotels and restaurants inflation also decreased to 4.1% from 4.4% on the previous month, while miscellaneous services and goods inflation fell to 6.2% from 7.2% as well. However, housing and utilities inflation increased to 4.6% from 4.3% in the previous month.

According to Statistics Finland: “Consumer prices were raised most in February by increases in average interest rate on housing loans, consumer credits and the prices of package international holidays outside the EU from one year ago.

Sweden sees inflation slowing to 4.5% in February

Swedish inflation numbers came out on Thursday. According to Statistics Sweden, year-on-year February inflation clocked in at 4.5%, down from 5.4% in January. This was also below analyst forecasts of 4.7%.

This decrease was mainly due to housing and utilities inflation slowing to 9.4% in February, from 10.1% in the previous month, aided by a robust fall in electricity prices. Food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation also slowed to 1.2% from 3.8% in the previous month. Similarly, clothing and footwear inflation dropped to 5.1% from 6%.

On the flip side, transport inflation inched up to 1.5% from 0.9% in January, and healthcare inflation advanced to 5.6% from 5% in the previous month.

Month-on-month inflation for February was 0.2%, up from January’s -0.1%, as well as analyst expectations of 0.4%.

Regarding housing costs, Statistics Sweden said that: “the main contributors were risen fees for rented and tenant-owned apartments, as well as increased mortgage costs”.

Spain inflation falls to six-month lows on easing food prices
Spain’s inflation report for February 2024 came out on Thursday, with the National Statistics Institute revealing that year-on-year inflation in February had dropped to a six-month low of 2.8%. This was as markets expected, and was also a considerable step down from January’s 3.4%.

The fall was mainly due to food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation slowing to 5.3%, from 7.4% in the previous month. Culture and recreation inflation also dropped to 2.8% from 3.1% in January. However, transport inflation increased to 2.4% from -0.1% in January, while hotels and restaurants inflation also edged up slightly to 5.5% from 5.4% in the previous month.

Month-on-month inflation for February came in at 0.4%, up from 0.1% in January, as well as consensus estimates of 0.3%.

Bulgarian inflation plunges to lowest level since July 2021

Bulgaria’s inflation numbers also came out on Thursday, with the country seeing year-on-year inflation for February drop to 3.3%, down from 3.8% in January. This was the lowest figure since July 2021.

According to the National Statistical Institute of Bulgaria, the decrease was mainly due to food and non-alcoholic beverages inflation slowing to 3.2% from 5% in the previous month. Furnishings, household equipment and maintenance inflation also dropped to 3.2% from 3.7% in January.

However, education inflation inched up to 8% from 7.8% in the previous month, with housing and utilities inflation also rising to 3.1% from 2% in January.

Month-on-month inflation clocked in at 0.3%, from 0.5% in January.

Ireland inflation slides to 30-month low on lower housing prices

Year-on-year Irish inflation dropped to 3.4% in February 2024, down from 4.1% in the past month, according to the Central Statistics Office Ireland. This was also a fresh 30-month low and was mainly due to housing and utilities inflation slowing to 3.6% from 4.3% in the previous month. Healthcare inflation also dropped to 2.3% from 2.8% in January, while communications inflation inched lower to 1.1% from 1.3%.

However, transportation inflation rose 2.8% from 2.1%. Month-on-month inflation for February came in at 1%, from -1.3% in January.

Malta’s unemployment rate for the fourth quarter of 2023 was also released on Thursday, clocking in at 2.90%, up from 2.50% in the previous quarter, according to the National Statistics Office, Malta.

Source: euronews

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