Euro zone inflation drop raises hope over rates

STORY: Euro zone inflation eased far more than expected in November.

Consumer prices in the 19 countries sharing the euro grew by 10% - well below expectations for 10.4%

Official data released Wednesday (November 30) showed energy prices made up for most of the slowdown.

The numbers raised hopes that price growth is now past its peak.

It also strengthens the case for the European Central Bank to slow down rate hikes next month.

Economists say a run of increases is still likely over the coming months as price growth will take years to control.

But after back-to-back 75-basis-point moves, some policymakers have made the case for a 50-point rise in December.

They argue inflation is finally peaking and that the ECB has made enough progress to justify more modest steps.

The dip in headline prices is the euro zone's first in well over a year.

But Wednesday's data could also drive fears that inflation will prove more persistent than expected.

Underlying price growth, excluding volatile food and energy prices, was still high.

Food price growth - a key concern for governments - showed little sign of peaking.

Inflation for processed food, alcohol and tobacco, a key category, rose to 13.6% from 12.4%.