Inflation slowing in developed countries

In this March 27, 2014 photo, a customer looks at a product at a bargain sale prior to the tax hike at a supermarket in Shin-Urayasu. Japanese retailers are luring customers with promises of steep discounts ahead of a sales tax hike Tuesday, April 1, that economists expect to slow but not derail the recovery of the world's third-largest economy. Japan's sales tax will rise from 5 percent to 8 percent. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

PARIS (AP) — Inflation slowed in major developed countries in February amid a steep drop in energy prices, a report showed Tuesday.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development said consumer price inflation in its 34 member countries slowed to 1.4 percent in February from 1.7 percent in January.

Low inflation has become a key concern for many developed countries. If consumers and businesses put off purchases in the hope of cheaper deals later, that can hurt growth.

An outright drop in prices, called deflation, can be very hard to reverse. Japan was stuck in deflation for about two decades, during which time its economy barely grew.

The U.S. inflation rate was 1.1 percent in February, while the European Union's was just 0.8 percent, well below the 2 percent many economists deem a suitable level.

The OECD, a think-tank for the world's most developed countries, said however that excluding volatile food and energy prices, core inflation for its 34 members was stable for a fourth month running at 1.6 percent.

Inflation in G-20 countries, which includes major developing countries such as Indonesia, India and Brazil, slowed to 2.3 percent in February from 2.6 percent in January, the OECD said.