Inflation in Germany rose more than previously estimated in February, strengthening speculation that the European Central Bank (ECB) may hike interest rate as early as next month.

Consumer price index (CPI) in the eurozone’s largest economy increased to 2.1 percent in February compared with the earlier estimate of 2 percent, the Federal Statistics Office said on Friday. Markets had expected the German CPI to remain unrevised at 2 percent in February.

A stronger upward price trend was thus observed for the fourth consecutive month in February 2011. A higher inflation rate was last recorded in October 2008 at 2.4 percent, the federal office said.

Also, consumer prices rose 0.5 percent in February month-on-month, matching the market consensus. The rise in consumer prices in February was largely led by energy prices, which rose 10.2 percent on annual basis. Food prices increased by 3.4 percent in February year-on-year. However, the prices of consumer durables in Germany remained unchanged in the month.

The harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) for Germany, which is calculated for European purposes, rose 2.2 per cent in February 2011 on annual basis.