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French inflation unexpectedly slows in September as food price rises ease

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– French inflation unexpectedly slowed in September as easing price rises in the food sector outpaced higher prices in the energy sector, preliminary EU-harmonised official data showed on Friday.

French consumer prices rose 5.6% in September from a year earlier, after a 5.7% rise in August, the INSEE statistics agency said.

A poll of 16 economists had an average forecast for the 12-month inflation rate of 5.9%.

Food prices rose 9.6% in September following an 11.2% jump in August while energy prices jumped 11.5% after rising 6.8% in August.

High food prices have spurred consumers to cut back on purchases and left the French government struggling to strong arm retailers and producers to reduce prices.

In the hope of getting lower prices to consumers faster, the government has sent a bill to parliament which moves the deadline for wrapping up annual price negotiations to Jan. 15, 2024, instead of the traditional March 1 deadline.

Separately, French retailers Carrefour (EPA:) and E-Leclerc said on Tuesday they would sell car fuel at cost, under pressure from the government to lower prices at the pump following a recent spike in global prices.

To help people cope with inflation, the French government initially considered lifting a ban on fuel being sold at a loss, but revised its plan in the face of opposition from distributors.

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