Euro-Zone Inflation Dips: Ireland Leads EU At 5%

Inflation in the euro-zone -- the 11 countries participating in the European single currency -- dipped by two-tenths of a percentage point in April from its March level of 2.1%, according to data released this week by Eurostat. The annual rate of 1.9% recorded last month still tops the rate of a year ago, which was 1.1%.

Prices are rising fastest, at a 5% annual rate, in Ireland, where the boom economy dubbed the "Celtic Tiger" has shown increasing signs of overheating. Irish housing prices have spiraled, consumer borrowing has jumped by an astonishing 30% over last year's levels, and current projections show that a remarkable one in 16 residents of the island nation will buy a new car before the year ends.

In the 17-nation European Economic Area, which includes non-European Union member states Iceland and Norway, only Iceland -- at 5.1% -- had a higher inflation rate than Ireland.

Within the euro-zone, France had the lowest rate of price growth, with provisional figures putting inflation there at 1.4%. The United Kingdom and Sweden -- both members of the European Union but not participants in the single currency -- showed the lowest rates of inflation in Europe, at 0.6% and 1%, respectively.

Among the larger countries in Europe, the inflation levels were: Germany, 1.6%; Italy, 2.4%; and Spain, 3%.

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