Annual inflation in Nigeria fell for a second straight month in March, showing the early effects of central bank intervention on the currency market to meet demand for dollars, the statistics office said on Thursday.
Inflation declined to 17.26 percent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a report, down from 17.78 percent in February, which was the first drop in 15 months.
A Reuters poll of economists had predicted a decline to 16.70 percent.
General price levels in Africa's biggest economy rose for the 12th straight month in January to its highest level in more than 11 years, as the West African nation battled an economic recession, a currency crisis and dollar shortages, brought on by low oil prices, its mainstay.
The NBS said the second consecutive month of a decline in the headline rate represented "the effects of stabilizing prices in already high food and non-food prices".
"It is also indicative of early effects of a strengthened naira in the foreign exchange rate market," it said.
The central bank has sold over $4 billion on the forward currency market since February in an attempt to improve dollar liquidity and narrow the spread between the official and the black market exchange rates. Black market rates have fallen as a shortage of dollars caused the naira to plummet.
A separate index showed food inflation at 18.44 percent in March from 18.53 percent in February, it said.