(Bloomberg) -- Sri Lanka’s inflation eased for the first time in five months in February on the back of a stronger currency and slower gains in food prices.

The consumer price index in Colombo rose 5.9% from a year ago, the Statistics Department said on Thursday. That compares with a 5.2% climb seen in a Bloomberg survey, and a 6.4% print in January.

Cooling inflation may provide some relief to the Central Bank of Sri Lanka that expects price gains to peak in the July-September quarter. While inflation may deviate from the aim in the near term, the monetary authority doesn’t expect a threat to its 5% target, it said in a bi-annual policy report earlier this month. 

The South Asian nation’s central bank held rates for the first time in five months in January as the economy started to rebound, aided by an International Monetary Fund bailout. A delegation from the Washington-based lender will hold a second review of its $3 billion loan program in March.

Sri Lanka’s annual economic growth is expected to turn positive this year. The nation’s rupee is the third-best performing currency so far in 2024, gaining 4.4%.

--With assistance from Tomoko Sato and Ronojoy Mazumdar.

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