(Combines German and Spanish data)
BERLIN/MADRID, Aug 30 (Reuters) - German and Spanish consumer prices rose more than expected in August, data showed on Wednesday, suggesting that solid growth rates in both economies are pushing up inflation rates towards the European Central Bank's target.
The surprisingly strong figures came only days after ECB President Mario Draghi urged patience in the debate about his ultra-easy monetary policy, saying more time was needed to lift euro zone inflation to the central bank's target of nearly 2 percent for the 19-member bloc as a whole.
German consumer prices, harmonized to compare with other European countries (HICP), rose by 1.8 percent on the year after an inflation rate of 1.5 percent in the previous month, the Federal Statistics Office said. This was the strongest rate since April. On the month, prices rose 0.2 percent.
Both figures came in stronger than expected, with a Reuters poll having pointed to an increase of 1.7 percent on the year and a rise of 0.1 percent on the month.
A breakdown of non-harmonized data showed energy and food costs were the main drivers of inflation while the cost of services did not rise as strongly as in July.
"Inflation is pointing upward because the German economy is in full swing," KfW bank chief economist Joerg Zeuner said, adding there was no end in sight to the strong economic upswing.
"This is good news for the ECB. It can continue its course towards normalization," Zeuner added.
The German economy grew by 0.7 percent on the quarter between January and March and by 0.6 percent in the second quarter, driven by domestic demand as consumers and authorities are benefitting from high employment and low borrowing costs.
In a sign that the upswing is translating into higher income, negotiated wages rose by 3.8 percent on average in the second quarter - their strongest increase on record, data showed on Wednesday.
In another sign of rising price pressures in the 19-member single currency bloc, Spanish inflation rose more than expected in August.
Spanish harmonized consumer prices rose 2 percent year-on-year, slightly above forecast, on the back of strong growth in the euro zone's fourth largest economy.
The euro zone will publish preliminary inflation data on Thursday.
While ECB stimulus has pushed euro zone growth to over 2 percent, the fastest since 2011, inflation is expected to undershoot the bank's target at least through 2019.
ECB policymakers have agreed to decide this autumn whether to extend or wind down their 2.3 trillion euro ($2.7 trillion)asset purchase program, which is due to expire in December.
Hawks on the policy-setting council will point to rising inflation as justification for a quick end to the asset buys, as Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann did last week.
The governing council next meets on Sept. 7.
($1 = 0.8392 euros) (Reporting by Michael Nienaber; Editing by Michelle Martin; Editing by Toby Chopra)