French inflation rose more than expected in March to hit a record high, preliminary EU-harmonised data showed on Thursday, putting pressure on President Emmanuel Macron as he seeks re-election next month.
The INSEE statistics agency said consumer prices rose 1.6% in March, giving a 12-month inflation rate of 5.1%, up from 4.2% in February.
That was the highest since INSEE began using EU methodology to calculate inflation in early 1997 and exceeded the average forecast in a Reuters poll of 18 economists for a rate of 4.8%.
Less than two weeks from a presidential election, the record high inflation is bad news for President Emmanuel Macron as he seeks a second term, with dwindling purchasing power increasingly eclipsing his otherwise strong economic record.
Consumer Price Index
According to the INSEE's Consumer Price Index, Food prices are now at +2.8, up from +2.1 in February and +0.9 in March of last year. Fresh food is notably higher, at +7.2, compared to +4.4 for March of last year.
The biggest increase, however, is in energy, with the CPI indicating energy prices now stand at +28.9, up from +21.1 in February and +4.7 in March of last year.
Overall, the CPI stood at +4.5 for the month of March, up from +3.6 in February and +1.1 in March 2021.
German Retail Sales Slow To Recover
Elsewhere, German retail sales came in slightly below economists' forecasts in February as the sector continues to recover despite some pandemic restrictions remaining in force, data showed on Thursday.
The Federal Statistics Office said retail sales were up 0.3%on the month in real terms. A Reuters forecast had predicted an increase of 0.5%.