Annual inflation in the euro zone rose to 2% in June, European Union statistics office Eurostat said today, confirming an earlier flash estimate. 

The data is a welcome sign for the European Central Bank as it seeks to wind down bond purchases, although volatile energy prices were the main driver behind inflation's growth.

Excluding rises in prices for energy and unprocessed food, the ECB's definition of core inflation, annual inflation came in at 1.2%. When tobacco sales are excluded, inflation was 0.9%. 

The ECB said last month it expects to end its €2.6 trillion bond-buying programme at the end of the year.

But it said it will keep interest rates at their current, record low level "through the summer of 2019", leading investors to price in a hike in October of next year.

Today's Eurostat figures showed that Ireland recorded the lowest inflation rate of any EU member at 0.7%, with Romania well out in front, at 4.7%.