UPDATE 1-Nigeria's inflation rises in December after 8 months of decline

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ABUJA, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Nigeria's double-digit inflation climbed to 15.63% in December after eight straight months of decline as prices for food and non-food items rose, the statistics office said on Monday.

Inflation, which has been in double digits since 2016, rose by 0.23 percentage points from 15.40% in November, it said.

"The change must have been caused by the increase in the price of good and services as a result of the increase in demand during the festive season," said Simon Harry, head of the National Bureau of Statistics.

Nigeria imports many key goods and services. A dollar shortage has prompted the government to put restrictions on forex for certain items, exerting pressure on prices.

Nigerian authorities have said persistent inflationary pressures are structural - linked to deficits and not solely to the money supply - and largely imported.

Food price inflation, the major headline component, increased by 0.16 percentage points in December to 17.37%, the statistics office said. Core inflation, excluding prices of farm produce, rose 0.02 percentage points to 13.87%.

The uptick in inflation in Nigeria could pile pressure on the central bank to reconsider its dovish stance on interest rates. The bank's monetary policy committee is due to meet next week for a decision on the benchmark interest rate, which has been held at 11.5% for more than a year. (Reporting by Camillus Eboh and Chijioke Ohuocha; Editing by Kevin Liffey and Mark Heinrich)