German inflation picked up slightly in January, preliminary data showed today, as the impact of a one-off energy subsidy the month before wore off.

German consumer prices accelerated by 8.7% year-on-year, federal statistics agency Destatis said, up from 8.6% in December.

The increase was smaller than expected, with analysts surveyed by FactSet predicting price growth of 8.9%.

Destatis was initially scheduled to release its January data last week, but delayed the publication over an "unexpected technical problem".

As a result, the EU's statistics office Eurostat was forced to use an estimate for Germany when it released the euro zone inflation rate.

Eurostat calculated that inflation in the 20-nation currency club had eased for a third month in a row, to 8.5%, but uncertainty hung over the figure.

"The increase published today is the missing piece of the puzzle," said KfW chief economist Fritzi Koehler-Geib.

"Although the peak has probably been passed, it is premature to sound the all-clear," she said.

"While pressures from energy prices will decline in perspective, service and industrial goods prices are gaining in importance this year," she added.

Russia's invasion of Ukraine a year ago pushed up food and energy costs across Europe, sending inflation soaring.

The German government unveiled a €200 billion energy support package to cushion the impact, including a subsidy in December covering the gas bill for households and businesses.

The package also includes a cap on electricity and gas prices starting this year.

Energy prices have declined sharply recently, partly thanks to mild winter weather, a race to diversify supplies and energy-saving efforts.

Although this has helped bring euro zone inflation down from a peak of more than 10% in October, price pressures remain high.

The European Central Bank has raised interest rates at an unprecedented pace since July to bring inflation back down to its 2% target.

ECB President Christine Lagarde said last week that the bank would hike rates by a further 50 basis points in March.