Euro-zone inflation over 3 percent for first time

EUROPE - Inflation in the 12-nation euro-zone soared to 3.4 percent in May, a surprisingly high increase that pushed the rate above 3 percent for the first time since the European single currency was launched in January 1999.

The annual inflation rate released by Eurostat compared to 2.9 percent in April and just 1.9 percent in May 2000.

The figures come at a bad time for the European Central Bank, which had been under pressure to cut interest rates to help an increasingly sluggish European eco