French consumer prices rose 1.3 pct in February yr/yr

PARIS, March 15 (Reuters) - French consumer prices were stable in February compared to the previous month, giving a year-on-year inflation rate of 1.3 percent, according to final EU-harmonised data released on Thursday from the INSEE national statistics office.

The 12-month rate was in line with an earlier, flash estimate of 1.3 percent from INSEE.

Two of the top officials at the European Central Bank (ECB) said this week that the ECB needed further evidence that inflation was rising towards its target, and would end asset purchases only when it was satisfied that price growth is on a sustained path towards its objective.

Consumer prices are likely to undershoot the ECB's target of just under 2 percent for years to come, even though the 19-member currency bloc is enjoying its fifth year of expansion, its best run since the 2008 global financial crisis.

BACKGROUND

French EU-harmonised inflation fell to a historical low of -0.8 percent in July 2009 and hit an all-time high of 4.0 percent in July 2008, according to INSEE's records going back to 1991.

GRAPHIC

http://reut.rs/2iwelTX

FOR DETAILS FROM INSEE

http://www.insee.fr/en/themes/info-rapide.asp?id=29 (Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Richard Lough)