Europe inflation eases slightly but consumer pain persists

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Inflation has eased only slightly in the 20 countries that use the euro currency as the pain from higher costs for food and fuel persists. That’s giving the European Central Bank no reason to slow interest rate increases aimed at getting prices back under control. The European Union’s statistics agency Eurostat said Thursday that the consumer price index reached 8.5% in February compared with a year earlier, a drop from 8.6% in January. Prices for food, alcohol and tobacco rose higher than the month before, outpacing even energy costs amid Russia’s war in Ukraine. Energy prices grew from a year ago but were lower than their increase in January.