Euro zone inflation defied expectations of a small decline and surged higher in March, an early estimate showed on Thursday, a week before the European Central Bank is expected to raise interest rates to stem price growth.
The European Union's statistics office Eurostat estimated that consumer prices in the 17 countries using the euro jumped 2.6 percent year-on-year in March, up from 2.4 percent in February. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 2.3 percent.
The Eurostat estimate does not contain a monthly figure or a more detailed breakdown, but the faster price growth is mainly likely to be a result of rising oil prices.
The ECB, which wants to keep inflation below, but close to 2 percent, signaled in early March that it would raise its main refinancing ratein April in reaction to the fast rise of commodity prices.