Wiesbaden (dpa) - Lower energy prices have pushed inflation in Germany to its lowest level in 19 months. Consumer prices rose in September compared to the same month last year by 1.2 percent, as the Federal Statistical Office announced on the basis of preliminary data.

According to the Wiesbaden authority, the rate was last lower in February 2018 at 1.1 percent. Compared with August 2019, consumer prices remained unchanged in September.

For household energy and fuels, people in Germany had to pay an average of 1.1 percent less than in the same month last year. In addition, the rise in food prices weakened. They gained 1.3 percent. In August, the increase was still 2.7 percent.

The inflation rate is an important indicator of the monetary policy of the European Central Bank (ECB). For the entire eurozone and its 19 countries, the central bank is aiming for an annual inflation rate of just under 2.0 percent in the medium term - far enough from the zero mark. Because prices that are consistently low or wide-spread could mislead businesses and consumers to postpone investment. That can slow down the economy.

The price index HICP for Germany, which is used by the ECB for its monetary policy, calculated for European comparison purposes, was 0.9 percent higher than in September 2018. In the euro area, annual inflation was 1.0 percent in August, according to the latest data from the statistics agency Eurostat.

The European Central Bank (ECB) recently eased its monetary policy in light of the economic slowdown and comparatively weak inflation. An interest rate increase longed for by savers has become a long way off. The central bank also requires banks not only higher penalty interest when parking money at the central bank. As of November, it will also invest € 20 billion per month in the purchase of bonds - and this for an indefinite period.

For savers, the development is bitter. For Tagesgeld and Co. hardly throw anything off. According to calculations by the Comdirect Bank, the real interest rate - ie the actual interest rate for savings deposits after deduction of the inflation rate - was minus 1.30 percent in the third quarter of 2019. Savers lost therefore alone in the period July to September 7.7 billion euros.

Federal Statistical Office on Inflation Germany

Eurostat on inflation in the euro area