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Annual Inflation Up to 1.8% in December (adds)

Ljubljana, 30 December (STA) - Slovenia's annual inflation rate increased by 0.4 percentage points in December to stand at 1.8%, while prices were up by 0.1% compared to the previous month, the Statistics Office said on Thursday.

Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, which is used to compare price growth in the EU, annual inflation was at 2.2% in December, up by 0.1 percentage points compared to last year.

The past month saw higher prices of petroleum products and package holidays and lower prices of clothing and footwear. On average, service prices were up by 0.4%, while goods prices were down by 0.1%.

Higher prices of petroleum products pushed the inflation up by 0.2 percentage points and higher prices of package holidays by 0.1 points, according to the office.

In December prices increased the most in the groups recreation and culture, and housing, water, electricity, gas (each by 0.8%), transport (by 0.5%) and communication (by 0.4%).

Lower prices were meanwhile recorded in the groups clothing and footwear (by 2.3%), education (by 0.6%) and food and non-alcoholic beverages (by 0.2%).

December discounts had a large effect on lower prices in the clothing and footwear group, with the prices of garments decreasing by 2.8%, clothing materials by 2.5% and footwear by 1.3%, the office said.

Lower prices of clothing and footwear pushed the inflation down by 0.2 percentage points.

In 2010, prices increased the most in the group housing, water, electricity, gas and other (by 8.3%), followed by alcoholic beverages and tobacco (by 8.1%), health (by 4.3%) and communication (by 3.2%).

Prices of liquid fuels were up by 28%, collection of waste and gas by 20%, while tobacco products were 12% dearer in 2010 compared to the year before.

Despite the hike in the prices of fuels and lubricants by 12.4%, the prices in the group transport were up by only 0.3% in 2010 as the prices of cars were down by 10.1% on average (used cars by 18.8% and new cars by 5.6%).

In the group restaurants and hotels, the prices were down by 11.1%, primarily as a consequence of a 68.6% drop in the prices of school meals brought by a law partially subsidising meals at all levels of education.

On average, service prices were up by 0.2% in 2010, while goods prices increased by 3.3%.

The Institute for Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) said in a response that Slovenia registered in 2010 the expected moderate growth of consumer prices, in line with IMAD's autumn forecast (1.8%) and comparable to the growth of prices in the entire eurozone.

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