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Portuguese inflation at 3.6% in February: official data

Portuguese inflation reached 3.6 percent in February, but its trade deficit eased by 18 percent in January, as official data showed Monday a mixed picture of the troubled eurozone member’s economy.

Annualised inflation edged upwards from the 3.5 percent level in January, with the cost of housing, water, electricity, gas, transportation, food and non alcoholic drinks all on the rise, the national statistics institute said.

The Portuguese trade deficit fell meanwhile to 1.091 billion euros ($1.43 billion) from 1.332 billion euros in January 2011 owing to a welcome surge in exports, the INE added in a separate statement.

After slowing in December, exports posted a 12-month gain of 13.1 percent in January to 3.531 billion euros, while imports were 3.8 percent higher at 4.622 billion euros.

For all of 2011, the national trade deficit amounted to 15.3 billion euros, a decline of 25 percent from 2010.

Portugal is one of three eurozone economies, along with Greece and Ireland, that has sought financial aid from the 17-nation eurozone and the International Monetary Fund.

Lisbon managed however to to reduce its public deficit to around 4.0 percent of gross domestic product last year, still well above the eurozone ceiling of 3.0 percent of GDP.

The government has forecast average inflation of 3.3 percent this year, but its economy is expected to contract by more than 3.0 percent.