Euro zone core inflation was higher than initially forecast, the European Union's statistics office said today, while confirming its estimate for the headline figure. 

Eurostat confirmed inflation in March in the euro zone slowed down to 1.5% year-on-year from a four-year high of 2% recorded in February. 

But core inflation, which excludes volatile prices of energy and unprocessed food and which the European Central Bank monitors closely, was revised up to 0.8% year-on-year in March from an earlier estimate of 0.7%. 

The core figure remained, however, lower than the 0.9% recorded in February. 

On a monthly basis, euro zone headline inflation was 0.8% in March, in line with market expectations.

Core inflation was 1.2% higher, below the average forecast in a Reuters poll of 1.3%. 

The revised core data may slightly strengthen the hand of those who support winding down the ECB monetary stimulus, although inflation remains below the bank's target of inflation close but below 2% over the medium term.
 

The ECB has slashed interest rates into negative territory and adopted a bond-buying programme worth €2.3 trillion to counter the threat of deflation and revive growth in the 19-member currency bloc. 

Overall inflation was lower mainly because energy prices rose by only 7.4% year-on-year from 9.3% in February. In its earlier estimates, Eurostat said energy prices went up 7.3% in March. 

The statistics office confirmed prices for food, alcohol and tobacco went up by 1.8% in March, from a 2.5%increase recorded the previous month. 

In the services sector, the largest in the euro zone economy, prices rose by 1% in March, from 1.3% in February.