UPDATE 1-Nigerian inflation climbs for fourth month as prices rise across board

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LAGOS, Jan 17 (Reuters) – Annual inflation in Nigeria rose for the fourth straight month in December, marking the longest run of increases in almost two years as prices climbed across all categories measured by the statistics bureau.

Nigeria closed parts of its borders in August to fight smuggling of rice and other goods, a move that has exacerbated inflation, according to economists. In October, the head of customs confirmed that all trade in goods via land borders had been halted indefinitely.

Annual inflation rose to 11.98% in December, up from 11.85% in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday, citing broad price increases.

That makes the four-month inflationary run the longest since January 2017, and the rate the highest since April 2018. Consumer inflation had dropped to its lowest in almost four years in August.

The central bank expects to keep monetary policy tight in 2020 to combat inflation and support the currency amidst slow growth, its governor has said.

The bank is due to set its benchmark interest rate next Friday. The bank, which has targeted single-digit inflation, held its main interest rate at 13.5% at its last meeting, in November.

A separate food price index showed annual inflation at 14.48% in November, compared with 14.09% a month earlier. (Reporting by Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Kevin Liffey)

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