France's inflation rate remained at a 12-year high in February as energy and food costs reached records. Consumer prices climbed by an annual 3.2 percent, the same as in January, based on European Union-harmonized methods, Insee, the national statistics bureau, said today in Paris. That's the fastest pace since 1996, when Insee began reporting the data. Prices increased 0.2 percent from January.
French energy prices climbed 18 percent from a year earlier in February and food rose 4.8 percent, today's report showed. Services such as health care increased 2.2 percent.
The price increases have affected consumer morale, sending confidence to a record low last month.
It has also hurt the popularity of French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who made purchasing power the centerpiece of his presidential campaign. Voters dealt him a setback in the first round of local elections March 10, preferring candidates from the opposition Socialist Party and its allies.