Greek consumer prices in July for second month in a row

August 8, 2016 6:41 AM EDT

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ATHENS (Reuters) - Greece's annual EU-harmonized inflation rate stayed positive for the second month in a row in July, statistics service data showed on Monday.

The reading in July was 0.2 percent, unchanged from June and slightly below market expectations. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 0.3 percent annual rate in July.

Consumer prices were led higher by foods, non-alcoholic beverages, healthcare and hotel costs.

The data also showed the headline consumer price index fell 1.0 percent year-on-year, with the annual pace of deflation picking up from -0.7 percent in June. Economists polled by Reuters were expecting a 0.5 percent drop in July.

For years an inflation outlier in the euro zone, Greece has been in a protracted deflation mode since March 2013 based on its headline index, as wage and pension cuts and a protracted recession took a heavy toll on Greek household income.

Deflation in Greece, which signed up to its first international bailout in 2010, hit its highest level in November 2013, when consumer prices registered a 2.9 percent year-on-year decline.

The euro zone returned to inflation in June after four consecutive months of falling or stable prices, although the modest 0.1 percent annual rate provides the European Central Bank with only limited comfort.

The annual rate is well short of the ECB's target of just below 2 percent. Prices had not risen in the 19 countries using the euro since January, with deflation in three of the subsequent four months and a zero reading for March.

(Reporting by George Georgiopoulos)

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