Nigerian inflation rate climbs for 10th straight month in Nov

ABUJA, Dec 15 (Reuters) - Annual inflation in Nigeria climbed to 21.47% in November from October's rate of 21.09%, accelerating for the 10th straight month as food prices surged, the statistics bureau said on Thursday.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) attributed the rise to a sharp increase in demand ahead of the Christmas season, import cost hikes due to the depreciation of the naira currency, and a rise in production costs.

A separate food price index showed inflation at 24.13% in November, compared with 23.72% in October, as Africa's most populous nation continues to struggle with rising prices for staples.

"The rise in food inflation was caused by increases in prices of bread and cereals, oil and fat, potatoes, ... and fish," the NBS said in a report.

Policymakers in Nigeria have said that persistent inflationary pressures are structural and largely imported.

The government expects inflation to remain in double digits, averaging 17.16% next year.

Virag Forizs, emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, said November inflation data was stronger than expected, meaning prices could rise further. She added the central bank could hike rates at its next meeting in January.

High inflation, weak economic growth and mounting insecurity are major issues for voters as Nigeria heads for legislative and presidential elections in February, in which incumbent President Muhammadu Buhari will not take part due to term limits.

Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Hugh Lawson

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