Inflation across the euro area is estimated to have moderated to 6.9% in March from 8.5% in February, according to an initial "flash" estimate from Eurostat.

However, the rate of food inflation has increased again to an annual rate of 15.4%.

Energy inflation declined by 0.9% over the month lowering its annual rate to 13.7%.

Core inflation, which excludes energy and food, rose to an annual rate of 5.7%.

Other components of inflation like non-energy industrial goods, rose at an annual rate of 6.6%. This was marginally lower than the annual rate in February.

Services inflation was 5%, which was up on the 4.8% recorded last month, today's figures show.

There is now a considerable spread in inflation rates between member states of the euro area.

Ireland's estimated annual rate in March was 7% while Spain's was 3.1%. The Baltic states all continue to have double-digit inflation rates.