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BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ Euro-zone inflation accelerated to 2.3 percent in October from 2.1 percent a month earlier, the European Union statistics agency Eurostat said Monday.

The figures were higher than economists' expectations and further proof that inflation trends in the euro zone are diverging. Central countries such as France and Germany face few price pressures. But prices in the euro-zone's periphery are rising. In Spain, for example, higher textile prices sparked a 4 percent inflation rate.

A European Commission spokesman, Gerassimos Thomas, said the EU's executive still believed the ``underlying trend'' was for inflation to start coming down early next year.

But the figures highlight the European Central Bank's dilemma over interest rates. Economic sluggishness, especially in the big economies, suggests the bank should cut rates.

The German central bank said Monday that Germany's economy _ the biggest in the euro zone _ grew by a moderate 0.25 percent in the third quarter but remains without momentum and lacks the confidence needed to boost investment and jobs.

But the inflation rate remains above the ECB's 2 percent ceiling, giving more ammunition to those bank governors who favor a more restrictive monetary policy.

Ireland continued to top the inflation table with 4.4 percent , followed by Portugal with 4.1 percent and Greece with 3.9 percent.

Higher fuel prices compared to the same period last year and the effect of massive floods in Central Europe added to the inflation pressure, economists say.

Germany and Belgium had the lowest rate of inflation, both at 1.3 percent.

The core inflation rate, which excludes volatile items such as energy and food prices, remained stable after falling to 2.4 percent in September from 2.5 percent in August.

Core inflation has been fluctuating around 2.5 percent since reaching a six-year high of 2.6 percent in May.

The 12 euro-zone countries include all European Union members except Britain, Denmark and Sweden.