Eurozone unemployment rate falls to 9.1%

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Economists had expected a reading of 1.1%.

The number of people in work rose by 148,000 in June, the Eurostat statistics agency said Monday, bringing the unemployment rate to 9.1 percent, from 9.2 percent in May.

Eurozone inflation meanwhile held at 1.3 percent in July, matching estimates by Factset.

At the same time, the annual increase in cost of food, alcohol and tobacco remained at 1.4 percent and prices of non-energy industrial goods grew 0.5 percent after gaining 0.4 percent.

The jobless rate also went down in Italy and Spain, the two eurozone countries with the highest rates, excluding Greece for which fresh data were not available. Meanwhile, services cost increased 1.5%, slightly slower than June's 1.6% rise. "Therefore, a very substantial degree of monetary accommodation is still needed for underlying inflation pressures to gradually build up and support headline inflation developments in the medium term".

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The ECB wants inflation to be close to 2 per cent, a level it estimates is healthiest for the economy.

To achieve this, the European Central Bank has set interest rates at historic lows and poured hundreds of billions of cheap euros into the banking system to stimulate activity.

The ECB is due to decide by the autumn whether and how to extend its 2.3 trillion euros ($2.70 trillion) quantitative easing program into 2018 and President Mario Draghi has cited sluggish core inflation and wage growth as reasons to be cautious.

Draghi last week played down suggestions the institution might soon wind down the stimulus, saying policymakers must be "persistent and patient" faced with low inflation.

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