Euro zone inflation rose by less than expected in November, highlighting that price growth remains weak in the bloc and supporting the European Central Bank's plan to remove stimulus only gradually. 

Inflation in the 19-country euro zone rose to 1.5% in November from 1.4% in October.

It missed expectations for an increase to 1.6% and remained below the ECB's target of close to but below 2%. 

Eurostat's flash estimate for the month does not include a month-on-month calculation. 

The inflation rise was mainly due to stronger energy prices, which were up 4.7% annually in November from a 3% increase in October. 

Unprocessed food prices were 2.4% higher, compared with a 2.8% rise last month. 

Calculated without these two most volatile components, what the ECB calls core inflation was steady at 1.1% compared to expectations of a slight dip to 1%. 

Although higher than expected, it shows there is only limited price pressure in the pipeline. 

Last month, the ECB took its first step towards weaning the euro zone off ultra-loose money by saying that from January it will halve the amount of bonds it buys every month to €30 billion. 

It nevertheless promised years of stimulus and left the door open to backtracking. 

In other data released today, solid economic growth helped bring down euro zone unemployment to the lowest level since January 2009, beating market expectations. 

The unemployment rate fell to 8.8% of the workforce or 14.34 million people in October from 8.9%, or 14.43 million, in September. 

Economists polled by Reuters had expected an unchanged rate of 8.9%.

The ECB's problem is that while the bloc has created over 7 million jobs since the worst days of its crisis, slack in the labour market remains large, keeping a lid on wages and ultimately inflation.