Separately, households got some good news in Eurostat figures showing the annual inflation rate in the eurozone fell by more than anticipated to a 23-month low of 2.2 percent in November from 2.5 percent the previous month.
Since it was a preliminary estimate, no reason for the fall was given but waning labor market pressures to lift wages are likely to have been, at least partially, behind the fall.
‘‘We think inflation could fall quite a bit further over the next year or so in response to the spare capacity in the economy, helping to ease the squeeze on households’ real incomes,’’ said Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics. ‘‘But whether that will get them spending in an environment of austerity and rising unemployment is another matter.’’
Despite the November decline, inflation is still above the ECB’s target of keeping price rises at just below 2 percent. Few economists think the ECB will cut its main interest rate from the current record low of 0.75 percent at its monthly policy meeting next Thursday.
Don Melvin in Brussels and Greg Keller in Paris contributed to this story