Euro zone factory prices rose for the first time in four months in January as energy costs resumed their upward course, although the year-on-year change in producer prices hit a six-month low.
Prices at factory gates in the 17 countries using the euro increased by 0.6 percent in January from December, the EU's statistics office Eurostat said on Monday, just above the 0.5 percent increase expected by economists polled by Reuters.
Compared to the same month a year ago, the producer price index was 1.9 percent in January, following 2.1 percent in December.
Month-on-month, the index was at a five-month high. Year-on-year it marked a six-month low.
The data provides a somewhat mixed signal to the European Central Bank, although the bank concentrates more on consumer prices, which rose by an annual 1.8 percent in February, the lowest rate since August 2010.
The ECB's governing council meets on Thursday.
Economists still broadly see the bank keeping its main refinancing interest rate at 0.75 percent this year, although a growing minority are forecast a further cut.
Both consumer and factory inflation were driven up last year, despite the euro zone's recession, by high world oil prices and tensions between Iran and the West over Tehran's nuclear ambitions that pushed up the cost of energy.
Brent crude future prices were as low as $106.63 per barrel in December, but then climbed steadily through January until a February 8 peak of $119.17, the highest level since May, although they had slipped to about $110 on Monday.
However, the euro's 5 percent slide against the dollar over the past month has meant that in euro terms, the impact of the slip in oil prices has been very limited for euro zone consumers.
For further details of Eurostat data click on: http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home/
(Reporting By Philip Blenkinsop; editing by Rex Merrifield)