By Joshua Kirby

Inflation eased a little less than expected in India at the start of 2024, highlighting the continued challenge facing monetary policymakers in the South Asian nation.

The country's consumer-price index rose 5.10% on year in January, decreasing from 5.69% in December and hitting a three-month low, according to figures released Monday by the Indian government. Economists had expected inflation to ease to 5.0%, according to a consensus of estimates compiled by FactSet.

Lower inflation was led by food prices, which rose by 7.6%, down from more than 9% in December. Fuel prices were meanwhile lower on year, booking deflation of 0.6%.

The overall rate of inflation is within the 2%-6% target range, but above the "4% on a durable basis" targeted by the Indian central bank.

The Reserve Bank of India last week opted to keep its policy rate in place at 6.50%, with Governor Shaktikanta Das noting that inflation is on a generally downward trajectory. The bank expects prices to rise an average 4.5% in the fiscal year starting in April.

Write to Joshua Kirby at; @joshualeokirby

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

02-12-24 0730ET