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STAFF REPORTER

MADRID
THE rate of inflation in Spain rose by 0.2 percent last month to stand at 4.4 percent, the highest annual figure since November 1995.
Underlying inflation, which excludes fresh food and energy, also rose 0.2 percent in February, locating the annual rate of inflation at 3.3 percent.
The increase in the rate of inflation is principally a consequence of rising transport costs, food prices, accommodation costs and higher prices in hotel, restaurants and cafes.

Alcoholic drinks and tobacco (3.9 percent), education (3.8 percent) and other goods and services (3.1 percent) have also risen.
As have housekeeping costs (2.6 percent), communications (0.9 percent) and clothing and footwear (0.8 percent).
The highest increases have been in transport costs, which have risen 16.7 percent over the last 12 months, energy (13.3 percent) and fresh food (5.2 percent).

In relation to the latter, milk has risen 27.7 percent, beef and eggs have risen 11.6 percent, dairy products have risen 10.5 percent, vegetables by 10.3 percent, chicken by 10.1 percent, fruit by 9.8 percent and cereals by 7.8 percent.

The only costs that have gone down over the last 12 months are medicine (1.8 percent) and leisure and culture (0.5 percent).
Regarding figures for last month, the rise in the price of drink and tobacco (1 percent) drove the 0.2 percent rise in inflation, whilst other goods and services (0.8 percent) and hotels, cafes and restaurants (0.6 percent) also rose.

Medicines rose 0.4 percent, accommodation, transport and culture and leisure rose 0.3 percent and housekeeping rose 0.1 percent. Education remained the same.

Meanwhile, the clothing and footwear saw a decrease of 1.2 percent thanks to winter sales, while food, non-alcoholic drinks and communications dropped 0.1 percent.

The figure were released yesterday by the National Institute of Statistics, which also published the Harmonised Consumer Price Index that compares prices in Spain with the rest of the eurozone. The eurozone saw a 0.1 percent increase in February bringing the annual figure to 4.4 percent, after five consecutive months of increases.