Eurozone inflation stagnates at 1.5% adding to European Central Bank 's quandary. iStock

Official figures released on Friday (29 September) show annual inflation was unchanged at 1.5% in September in the 19 countries that use the euro currency.

The headline figure released by the European Union statistics agency Eurostat was short of the 1.6% expected by market analysts.

Concurrently, core inflation, which excludes volatile food and energy prices, fell to 1.1% from 1.2% in August.

The reading underlines the challenge facing the European Central Bank as inflation remains below the bank's goal of just under 2%, even as it is contemplating the gradual withdrawal next year its monetary stimulus in the form of €60bn per month in bond purchases.

The hope is that a growing economy will eventually push up demand for labour, wages and inflation. Earlier this month ECB president Mario Draghi said the unwinding of the bank's quantitative easing programme (QE) will be discussed in October.

He added that "very, very preliminary" discussions over bringing the stimulus programme to an end had already begun.

Draghi also confirmed the bank had raised its forecast for economic growth. It now expects the Eurozone economy to grow 2.2% this year, compared with a forecast for 1.9% growth it released in June.

Expectations for economic expansion in over the next two years were left unchanged, to 1.8% and 1.9% in 2018 and 2019 respectively.

With Associated Press input.