April 12, 2018 / 7:49 AM / 7 months ago

UPDATE 1-Nigeria annual inflation dips to lowest in two years in March

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ABUJA, April 12 (Reuters) - Annual inflation in Nigeria stood at 13.34 percent in March, its lowest level in two years and its 14th straight drop in as many months, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Thursday.

It dipped from 14.33 percent in February. A separate food price index showed inflation was trimmed to 16.08 percent in March, from 17.59 percent the preceding month.

Food inflation has been in double digits for almost three years, but has slowed for the past six months.

Central Bank Governor Godwin Emefiele last week highlighted the slow moderation of food inflation amidst improving economic conditions. He noted the potential risk from rising global inflation on domestic prices.

Nigeria emerged from its first recession in 25 years in 2017 but growth remains fragile, although higher oil prices and debt sales over the past few months have helped the continent’s biggest crude producer to accrue billions of dollars in foreign reserves.

Yemi Kale, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, has said he expects the rate of inflation to fall faster this year compared with 2017, but activities leading up to presidential elections next year could stoke prices.

President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday confirmed he would seek re-election in polls due in 2019.

The central bank kept its main interest rate at 14 percent in April in an attempt to curb inflation especially in food prices. It has kept rates tight for more than a year to support the naira and attract foreign investors into the debt market.

Reporting by Paul Carsten Writing by Chijioke Ohuocha Editing by John Stonestreet and Alison Williams

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