Mar 31, 5:04 AM EDT

Following signs that oil price falls have bottomed out, eurozone consumer price falls moderate


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BRUSSELS (AP) -- Official figures show consumer prices across the 19-country eurozone fell by only 0.1 percent in the year to March, raising hopes that this current bout of deflation may soon come to an end.

The modest decline reported Tuesday by the European Union's statistics agency, Eurostat, was in line with market expectations and follows February's 0.3 percent fall. Once again, the main downward component was energy though the rate of decline moderated as oil prices have shown signs of bottoming out.

Negative inflation rates since December stoked fears that the eurozone would suffer a debilitating bout of deflation, where sustained falls in prices weigh on economic activity, as in Japan in the recent past.

Elsewhere, Eurostat said eurozone unemployment fell to 11.3 percent in February from 11.4 percent the previous month.

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