Consumer prices rose in February on the back of higher rents, mortgages and heating and energy bills, new figures from the Central Statistics Office show.

Average prices rose by 0.6% in February on an annual basis, the CSO said. 

Monthly consumer prices increased by 0.8% from January on the back of higher prices for clothing and footwear and transport.

The CSO said that the cost of housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels rose by 4% in February compared to the same month last year. Prices in restaurants and hotels were up 3.6%, while tobacco prices rose by 2.7%.

But February saw lower health and motor insurance premiums, as well as a fall in prices of appliances and products for personal care. This reduction, however, was partially offset by higher prices for hairdressing.

Transport costs also fell on the back of lower air fares, which was partially offset by an increase in the cost of buying a new car.

Commenting on today's figures, Cantor Fitzgerald economist Alan McQuaid said that despite strong Irish economic growth, there is as yet little sign of sustained pressure on the prices front.

The economist said this appears to be the same story across the euro zone, suggesting that the European Central Bank will be in no hurry to increase interest rates.

Mr McQuaid said that oil prices will be critical in determining the headline inflation outlook over the next twelve months or so.

But he said the more immediate worry on the domestic inflation front centres around increased wage demands, particularly in the public service. 

"As the labour market approaches full employment levels, wage growth will pick up. In its most recent Quarterly Economic Bulletin, the Central Bank forecast an average increase in compensation per employee of 3.5% in 2019-2020, up from 2.8% in 2018," he added.