Irish official inflation hits two-year low in March

Ireland's annualised inflation rate slowed sharply to 0.5 percent in March, hitting the lowest level for two and a half years, official data showed on Thursday.

"Prices on average, as measured by the CPI (consumer price index), were 0.5 percent higher in March compared with March 2012," the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said in a statement. The annualised rate had stood at 1.1 percent in February.

The annual rate of inflation for services was 1.2 percent in the year to March, while goods decreased by 0.2 percent.

"On an annual basis CPI rose by 0.5 percent, its slowest rate since September 2010," noted economise Julien Tennent at Goodbody stockbrokers in Dublin.

She told AFP: "Inflation in Ireland has been low and falling for the last six months or so. It's not just an Irish phenomenon; European rates of inflation have also been falling although the Irish rate is falling at a faster rate.

"One of the things is that fuel costs have come down in relation to how fast they were rising this time last year and also housing costs have come down as interest rates dropped."

Ireland has struggled with competitiveness after a decade-long period of rising costs and wages.

Tennent added: "It's certainly positive when you compare it to Europe, where inflation is also falling but at a slower rate than here."

The CSO added on Thursday that consumer prices rose by 0.4 percent in March compared with February.