However, the lowering services, food and non-food prices due to the appreciation of the national currency managed to offset the rising petrol prices.

Compared to a month earlier, consumer prices increased in March by 0.22%, while services dropped 0.9%. Food prices rose 0.17% and non-food by 0.38%, the statistical office shows.

In February, the annual inflation rate had declined to 4.49% from 5.9% in January, on rising tobacco, power and fuel excises.

Economists had predicted a decline in March inflation reading, as the appreciation of the national currency offset the rising consumer prices.

The biggest increases were observed in fuels (1.95%), citrus fruits (1.92%), other vegetables and canned vegetables (1.27%).

In the non-food sector, books, newspapers and magazines cost 0.08% more than in February and tobacco and 0.01% more. However, vehicles and car parts suffered a 0.39% drop.