Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation fell to 5.1% in March from 5.3% in February, the official statistics agency CAPMAS said on Thursday.

Month-on-month inflation stood at 0.6% compared with 0%, driven by price hikes of some food items, the agency said.

“The numbers were expected … the rise was in the monthly prices, but on the annual basis, there was a decline in prices,” said Radwa El-Swaify, head of research at Pharos Securities Brokerage.

“There was intense buying by citizens because of the curfew and fear of the coronavirus … The numbers are still less than the Central Bank’s target, which will lead it to keep the interest rate unchanged in the coming period,” El-Swaify added.

Naeem Brokerage said the inflation figures were positive for policy makers because prices of volatile food items remained largely in control despite unfavourable factors centred around the new coronavirus outbreak.

“Egypt’s real interest rate still remains above 7%, one of the highest among emerging economies,” it said in a note.

Later on Thursday Finance Minister Mohamed Maiit told the Al Arabiya news channel that foreign investment in Egyptian treasuries stood at between $13.5-14 billion, below the December level.

Foreign investment in Egyptian government debt instruments was $22 billion at the end of December.