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French April Inflation Higher than Expected at Record 5.4%

PARIS, April 29 (Reuters) - French inflation rose unexpectedly in April to hit a record high driven by surging energy prices, preliminary EU-harmonised data showed on Friday, putting fresh pressure on newly re-elected President Emmanuel Macron.

The INSEE statistics agency said consumer prices rose 0.5% in April, for a 12-month inflation rate of 5.4%, up from 5.1% in March and hitting the highest rate since France began using European Union methodology to calculate the readings in the early 1990s.

The increase, boosted by 26.6% year-on-year increase in energy prices but also a pick-up in prices for services and manufactured goods, beat average expectations in a Reuters poll of 17 economists for inflation to remain unchanged.

The surge is bad news for Macron as he prepares for legislative elections next month, after winning a second term this month in a presidential ballot that was in large part fought over voters' concerns around high inflation eroding their purchasing power.

Macron's government has so far managed to keep inflation below the euro zone average thanks to a 25 billion euro ($26.3 billion) package to help consumers cope with rising price pressures largely through caps on gas and power price increases.

INSEE said annual inflation as measured by France's national consumer price index rose to 4.8% in April from 4.5% in March, hitting its highest since November 1985. Economists polled by Reuters had expected 4.5% on average in April.

The national index is more closely followed in France, while the EU-harmonised index is used outside it to compare inflation rates among countries using the euro.

($1 = 0.9523 euros)

Reporting by Leigh Thomas; editing by John Stonestreet

Source: Reuters

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