Weak energy prices pushed down inflation in advanced countries to 1.4% in February from 1.7% in January, the OECD said today against a background of concern that euro zone inflation is too low. 

In the euro zone, inflation "slowed to 0.7% in February, compared with 0.8% in January," the OECD said.

Referring to the overall figures, it said that "this slowdown in the annual rate of inflation was driven by energy prices which fell by 0.4% in the year to February compared with an increase of 2.1% in the year to January."

However, food price inflation rose slightly to 1.6% from 1.5% in January.

If the price of food and energy were excluded, inflation was steady at 1.6% for the fourth month in a row.

There is concern that disinflation in many advanced countries is coming worryingly close to deflation, an absolute fall in prices, which can set in train a vicious circle of falling demand, rising unemployment, weak growth and further price falls.

Economists are waiting to see if the European Central Bank takes action at its meeting this week to prevent prices in the euro zone from falling further.

The ECB sets its price stability target at inflation of close to, but just under, 2%.

The OECD, a policy forum for advanced democracies, said that inflation in the US fell sharply to 1.1% in February from 1.6% in January and in Canada to 1.1% from 1.5%.

In Japan, however, inflation edged up to 1.5% from 1.4%.