Spanish prices fall for fifth straight month in November
Spanish consumer prices fell for the fifth straight month in November, official figures showed on Thursday, amid concern that the eurozone is at risk of sliding into deflation.
Spain's EU-harmonised inflation rate was minus 0.5 percent in November on a seasonally adjusted basis, following a 0.2 percent fall in October, preliminary figures from the national statistics institute showed.
"This decline was caused, almost entirely, by a drop in energy prices (electricity and gasoline)," the statistics office said in a statement.
Consumer prices in the eurozone's fourth-largest economy fell by 0.3 percent in September, by 0.5 percent in August and by 0.4 percent in July.
Falling prices reflect weak domestic demand in Spain, still struggling with a 23.67-percent jobless rate, one of the highest unemployment rates in the industrialised world, even as the economy slowly expands after emerging gingerly in mid-2013 from a double-dip recession.
While falling prices may sound good for consumers, deflation can trigger a vicious spiral in which businesses and households delay purchases, throttling demand and causing companies to lay off workers.
The European Commission predicts prices will rise by just 0.5 percent this year in the eurozone and by 0.8 percent next year.
The European Central Bank (ECB) aims at inflation rates of just below 2.0 percent over the medium term.
Bank of Spain governor Luis Maria Linde said Tuesday that the country "faced the danger of very low growth and inflation during a long time, as happened in Japan" but there were no signs of deflation or a return to recession.
Spain's economy grew by 0.5 percent in the third quarter compared with the previous three months, its fifth consecutive quarterly growth, according to final figures from the statistics office released Thursday.
The economy grew by 1.6 percent over the past 12 months, up from the 1.3 percent year-on-year increase registered in the second quarter, it added in a separate statement.
Spain fell into the first of two severe recessions in the second half of 2008 after its real estate sector collapsed.
Both quarterly and annual growth figures for the third quarter were in line with the initial estimates released on October 30.
© 2014 AFP