Eurozone inflation at record 12-month low of zero

BRUSSELS: Prices stagnated in May in the countries using the euro single currency over one year for the first time since records on the zone have been compiled, the European Union's data agency said Friday.

The Eurostat estimate put 12-month inflation in the eurozone -- numbering 16 nations since this year -- at 0.0 percent in May, the lowest point since 1996.

Inflation in April had held steady at a then-record low of 0.6 percent.

It would mean the 16 countries avoid by the narrowest margin a general drop in prices, although economists expect a dive into negative territory in coming months, due to the comparison with last summer when energy prices skyrocketed.

After hitting a record high of 4.0 percent last June and July, eurozone inflation has fallen sharply as oil and other commodity prices have collapsed in the face of a deep economic downturn.