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Global inflation slows, OECD says

New figures add to fears of global slowdown

The global inflation rate slowed to 1.5% in November from 1.7% a year earlier, propelled largely by the steep drop in energy prices, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development said.

The OECD data, released Thursday, added to concerns about a slowdown in the global economy and the worrisome prospect of global deflation, as Eurozone economies stagnate and the growth rate of China, a key prop of global growth, continues to slow down.

The Paris research agency said inflation eased in all of its 34 developed and developing member countries except Italy, where inflation ticked up modestly to a still-low 0.2%. The 19-member Eurozone area generally saw inflation continue to slow toward deflationary levels, including 0.6% in its largest economy, Germany, and just 0.3% in its second largest, France.

Inflation in Britain was 1%, its lowest level since 2002.

The OECD said that early data for December pointed to continued inflation  slowdowns in Germany, to 0.2%, and Italy, to 0%.

The backdrop of concerns about global growth has been a dramatic plunge in oil prices, which have fallen by more than half since July. Analysts said lower energy prices are mostly the result of increasing supply and a surge in the U.S. dollar, but the free-fall in oil prices also is a barometer for the global economy.

The slowdown in economic growth worldwide, outside of the U.S., was a topic at the most recent meeting of the Federal Reserve's rate-setting Federal Open Markets Committee, according to a transcript released Wednesday. Committee members took the unusual step of publicly questioning whether policy responses by overseas central banks were "insufficient."

Global stock markets rose Thursday, after the release of the dovish remarks from the Fed and a steadying of global oil prices. Germany's DAX index rose more than 3.3%, and the French CAX 40 was up more than 3.7% in mid-session trading. The Dow Jones industrial average was up more than 286.88 points, or 1.6%, to 17,871.40, and the broader Standard & Poor's 500 Index was up 32.37, or 1.6%, to 2058.27, also in mid-session trading.

Meanwhile, a key oil benchmark, West Texas Intermediate Crude, was up 72 cents, or 1.5%, to $48.65.

Twitter: @deanstarkman

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