FRANKFURT - Inflation in Germany, Europe's largest economy, hit its highest level for more than three years in December, beating analyst expectations, official data showed on Tuesday.

A basket of consumer items increased in price by 1.7 percent in December 2016 from the same month the previous year, figures from the federal statistics office Destatis showed. It was the fastest pace of inflation since July 2013 and beat the 1.5 percent predicted by analysts surveyed by Factset. Energy prices accounted for a large share of December's increase, seeing a 2.5-percent year-on-year boost compared with a 2.7-percent fall in November.

Food prices also increased 2.5 percent, more than double November's figure.

The uptick marks a sharp turn towards the European Central Bank's inflation target of just below 2.0 percent for eurozone heavyweight Germany, after October's and November's readings had stagnated at 0.8. Prices as measured by the ECB's preferred yardstick, the Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, also rose 1.7 percent in December.