Euro zone inflation slowed in March and the core figure dipped, the European Union's statistics office said today.

The figures confirmed Eurostat's initial estimates and provided an uncomfortable signal for the European Central Bank. 

Eurostat said prices in the 19-nation currency bloc rose 1.4% in March on the year, from a 1.5% increase a month earlier, confirming the previous reading. 

The ECB targets an inflation rate below, but close to 2%, and last week raised the prospect of more support for the euro zone in the face of an economic slowdown.

On a monthly basis, inflation accelerated to 1%, as markets had expected, from 0.3% in February. 

The core indicator watched closely by the ECB for its monetary policy decisions, which excludes volatile energy and food prices, dropped to 1% in March on the year from 1.2% in February. 

That was the weakest reading since April 2018, Eurostat data showed, confirming earlier estimates. 

This can add to the pressure on the ECB as it battles an economic slowdown which threatens to undo years of stimulus, while many of its own rate-setters think the bank's economic projections are too optimistic. 

A narrower inflation indicator that excludes energy, food, alcohol and tobacco was also confirmed dipping to 0.8% from 1% a month earlier. 

Inflation was held back by a slowdown in price rises of food, alcohol and tobacco, which rose 1.8% on the year in March after a 2.3% rise in February. 

Inflation in the services sector, the largest in the euro zone economy, also slowed to 1.1% from 1.4% in February. 

Energy prices were the only major component of the index that accelerated in March, to a rise of 5.3% year-on-year from 3.6% in February.