Saturday January 5, 2013

BRUSSELS (AP) -- Inflation across the 17 European Union countries that use the euro was unchanged at 2.2 percent in the year to December.

Eurostat, the EU’s statistics office, did not provide further details in its estimate released Friday. More information will be provided in a second estimate to be published later this month.

Inflation in the eurozone remains above the European Central Bank’s target of keeping the annual rate of price rises "just below 2 percent."

The ECB holds its first policy meeting next Thursday. It is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate unchanged at the record low of 0.75 percent even though the eurozone economy as a whole is back in recession.

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FRANKFURT, Germany -- U.S. and European stocks got only a brief boost from U.S. employment figures Friday, trading largely flat after news that the American economy kept creating jobs at the expected rate last month.

Stocks in Europe had been down earlier, held back by U.S. Federal Reserve minutes from its December meeting that revealed some officials favored ending the central bank’s extraordinary stimulus measures this year. The Fed’s ongoing bond purchases have helped lower interest rates and pumped newly created money into the economy, helping support an economic recovery.