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* Headline inflation 12.6 pct in Jan vs 10.3 pct in Dec
* Subsidy removal pushes up transport, food costs
* Cbank expects subsidy-linked inflation to be short term (Adds quote, graphic, background)
ABUJA, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Nigerian inflation was higher than expected in January, data showed on Monday after the government removed fuel import subsidies and then only partially reinstated them, sending prices higher.
The government scrapped the subsidies on Jan. 1 but was forced to partially reinstate them to quell protests over the costs of petrol. Fuel prices fell but stayed higher than they had been before the subsidy was removed.
Nigeria's consumer inflation rose to 12.6 percent year-on-year in January, compared with 10.3 percent the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday.
Analysts polled by Reuters expected January headline inflation to rise to 11.75 percent.
"The biggest contributors to the consumer inflation were the high prices of some food items, liquid fuel and transport fares, and other miscellaneous goods and services which need liquid fuel and or transport fares for providing their services," an NBS document said.
Food inflation, the biggest contributer to the headline figure, rose to 13.1 percent, up from 11 percent in December, NBS said. The partial removal of the fuel subsidies push food triggered a spike in food prices in
The Central Bank of Nigeria kept its benchmark interest rate on hold at 12 percent for the second time in a row last month on expectations that any upward movement in inflation from the removal of fuel import subsidies would be short-term.
For inflation graphic: r.reuters.com/fad33s
For a table of forecasts:
The central bank expects inflation to increase to around 14-15 percent in the first half of this year, before moderating towards single digits by the end of 2013. (Reporting by Joe Brock; Editing by Tim Cocks/Anna Willard)