February 18, 2020 / 7:48 AM / 3 months ago

Nigerian annual inflation hits near two-year high in January

A vendor attends to a customer at his stall inside a market in Abuja, Nigeria October 10, 2019. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

LONDON (Reuters) - Annual inflation in Nigeria rose in January to its highest level in nearly two years, data released on Tuesday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics showed, as prices increased across all categories measured.

Inflation stood at 12.13% in January, compared with 11.98% in December, marking the fifth straight month of increases.

Nigeria closed parts of its borders in August to fight smuggling of rice and other goods, but economists say the move has driven inflation. In October, the head of customs confirmed that all trade in goods via land borders had been halted indefinitely.

The consumer inflation rate in January was the highest since April 2018, when it stood at 12.48%. Inflation had dropped to its lowest in almost four years in August but has risen steadily in the wake of the border closures.

A separate food price index showed inflation at 14.85% in January, compared with 14.67% in the previous month.

“This rise in the food index was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, meat, oils and fats, potatoes, yam and other tubers and fish,” the statistics office said in its report.

The central bank has said it expects to keep monetary policy tight in 2020 to combat inflation and support the currency amidst slow growth. The bank, which has targeted single-digit inflation, held its main interest rate at 13.5% at its last meeting, in January.

Reporting by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Alex Richardson

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