Eurozone inflation eased at a quicker pace than expected in May, EU figures showed Thursday, giving the struggling 17-nation bloc a rare piece of good news.
Annual inflation slowed to 2.4 percent in May compared with 2.6 percent in April and 2.7 percent in March, according to Eurostat data agency.
While the inflation rate topped the European Central Bank's ceiling of just under 2.0 percent for the 18th month running, the May figure was better than the average analyst forecast of 2.5 percent compiled by Dow Jones Newswires.
The first estimate was published less than a week before the ECB's next policy meeting and could influence the Frankfurt-based bank's decision on whether to lower its main interest rate, currently at a record low of 1.0 percent.
The easing of inflation in May was an "all too rare" piece of good news for the crisis-struck eurozone, said Howard Archer, chief European economist at IHS Global Insight.