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Euro zone inflation confirmed above ECB target in July

People stand inside a Lush cosmetics store in Berlin, Germany, July 14, 2016. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Annual inflation in the 19 countries sharing the euro increased to 2.1 percent in July, European statistics office Eurostat said on Friday, confirming the rate was above the European Central Bank's (ECB) target.

The confirmation of increasing inflation is good news for the ECB, which aims to end a bond purchasing programme by the end of the year and has signalled a possible interest rate hike next year. [nL5N1UM21S]

Headline consumer inflation accelerated to 2.1 percent year-on-year in July from 2.0 percent in June, pushed up by higher energy costs.

Excluding energy and unprocessed food, an indicator the ECB looks at to measure core inflation, prices rose by 1.3 percent year on year.

On a country-by-country basis, annual inflation was highest in Estonia, Latvia and Belgium, while Greece and Ireland saw the smallest price increases.

The ECB has a mandate to keep inflation close to but below 2.0 percent.

(Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek)