Manila (Reuters) – Philippine annual inflation in December accelerated to its fastest pace since 2008, driven by spikes in food and energy prices, the statistics agency said on Thursday.

Last month’s inflation figure was slightly below the 8.2 percent median forecast in a Reuters poll, but within the central bank’s 7.8 percent to 8.6 percent forecast for December. It brought the full-year average rate to 5.8 percent, outside the official two to four percent target band.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile food and energy components, rose to 6.9 percent in December from 6.5 percent in November.

Food inflation at the national level rose further to 10.6 percent in December from the prior month’s 10.3 percent, largely driven by commodities including vegetables and rice.

The Philippine central bank has not ruled out further interest rate hikes in 2023, after raising the benchmark by a total of 350 basis points last year to curb inflation and support a weak peso.

(Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Enrico Dela Cruz; Editing by Ed Davies)