PARIS (Reuters) - French consumer prices edged up by 0.1 percent in October from September, giving a 12-month rate of 2.5 percent that remained just shy of the highest inflation level since March 2012, according to preliminary EU-harmonised data from the INSEE statistics agency.
A Reuters poll of 18 economists had an average forecast of 2.6 percent for the October reading. The October level came in at the same 12-month figure as for September and remained close to the 2.6 percent registered in August, which was the highest since March 2012.
Rising oil prices have increased inflationary pressures in the euro zone, and earlier this week figures showed that German annual inflation had picked up in October to reach its highest level in more than 6-1/2 years.
The European Central Bank (ECB) has a target for inflation within the euro zone standing at a rate of below, but close to, 2 percent.
The ECB is due to stop its 2.6 trillion euro ($2.95 trillion) bond-buying programme at the end of the year although it has pledged to keep rates at their current, rock-bottom level through to next summer.
($1 = 0.8800 euros)
(Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; Editing by Inti Landauro)