BRUSSELS, Belgium - Euro-zone inflation dropped to 1.9 % in January, below the European Central Bank's 2 % target rate for the first time in 10 months, according to statistics released Monday.
The rate fell from 2.4 % in December and shows inflation slowing quicker than many economists predicted. Inflation in January 2004 was also at 1.9 %, the European Union's statistics agency said.
Of the 12 euro-zone nations, Greece had the highest rate with 4.2 %, followed by Spain with 3.1 %. At the other end, Finland had deflation of 0.2 %, followed by the Netherlands with inflation of 1.3 %.
Across the whole 25-nation EU, inflation was at 2 %, down from 2.4 % in December, Eurostat said.
Highest rates were in Latvia with 6.7 % and Estonia with 4.2 %. Sweden had the lowest rate outside the euro-zone with 0.5 %, followed by Denmark with 0.8 %.
Eurostat said falls in the cost of vegetables, telecommunications and clothes had brought rates down, while upward pressure was exerted by rising prices for tobacco, transport fuel and heating oil.