German inflation remained below zero for the fourth consecutive month in December, in the wake of the economic slump unleashed by the coronavirus crisis.
Annual inflation in the eurozone's biggest economy ended 2020 stuck at minus 0.3 percent, the Federal Statistical Office (Destatis) said in preliminary data released on Wednesday.
Analysts had expected inflation to edge up to minus 0.2 percent for the month, from a November reading of minus 0.3 percent.
The European Central Bank's (ECB) annual target for consumer prices in the 19-member eurozone calls for an inflation rate of just below 2 percent. Weak German consumer prices have helped to ensure that the ECB retains an ultra-loose monetary policy.
The German December inflation data follows a sharp fall in energy prices, triggered by the global health crisis, combined with Berlin's move to lower indirect sales tax to help underpin consumer spending.
Year on year, energy prices slumped by 6 percent in December as economic activity slowed, the Destatis data showed.
However, Germany's inflation rate stayed in positive territory for the whole of 2020, averaging 0.5 percent, compared with 2019, when the consumer price rate stood at 1.4 percent, Destatis said.
Nonetheless, inflation in 2020 came in at its lowest level since 2016.
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