The final figure of euro zone CPI inflation for January showed a downward revision from 2.7% Y/Y to 2.6% Y/Y, while the consensus was looking for confirmation. On a monthly basis, inflation dropped by 0.8% M/M led by lower prices for clothing (- 14.1% M/M), recreation & culture (-2.0% M/M), household equipment (-0.7% M/M), hotels & restaurants (-0.6% M/M) and communication (-0.2% M/M). Lower prices for those categories were partly offset by higher prices for energy (2.6% M/M), health (1.0% M/M), transport (1.0% M/M), housing (0.9% M/M) and food (0.4% M/M). As a result, also core CPI dropped lower in January, from 1.6% Y/Y to 1.5% Y/Y, while an increase to 1.7% Y/Y was expected. This was mainly due to the sharp decline in prices of clothing. While the downward surprise in January is an encouraging sign, we believe that inflation will probably pick up in February due to the sharp increase in the oil price, already visible in the February German CPI.
In February, the number of people unemployed stayed unchanged in Germany while a slight decline was expected. Unemployment stabilized at 2.866 million, while the unemployment rate stayed unchanged at an upwardly revised 6.8%. The number of vacancies dropped by 11 000, the first decline since June 2009. The outcome was slightly weaker than expected, probably due to the harsh winter weather. Nevertheless, the German labour market remains very strong with employment at record high levels and unemployment at historic lows.