Eurozone inflation is expected to drop to 2.8 percent in December, its first fall in four months but still above the level favoured by the European Central Bank for price stability, official figures showed on Wednesday.
Eurostat, the European Union's statistical agency, said it estimated annual inflation in the 17-nation eurozone at 2.8 percent, compared to 3.0 in November.
Inflation in the euro nations hit 3.0 percent in September, up from 2.5 percent in August, and remained stable through October and November.
The December estimate, if confirmed, will mark the 13th consecutive month that inflation has remained above the ECB's target for price stability of below or close to 2.0 percent.
In France, the government this week forecast a slowdown in price hikes in 2012 to 1.5 percent against 2.4 percent in 2011.
In Germany, inflation hit a high of 2.6 percent in September before declining.
In Spain, annual inflation fell to 2.4 percent in December against 2.9 percent the previous month.
The December estimate for the entire eurozone could reassure the ECB, which next meets January 12.
The central bank lowered its main interest rate in November and in December by 0.25 percent each time, to an historic low of 1.0 percent.
Eurostat will release its final inflation figure for December on January 17.