DUBAI - Saudi Arabia's annual inflation rate eased to 1.5% in December, from 1.7% the previous month, government data showed on Monday, driven by housing rent increases.

Rents for housing increased by 9% in December, pushing an overall rise in pricing of housing, water, electricity, gas, and other fuels by 7.5%, the General Authority for Statistics reported.

Prices for food and beverages rose by 1.2% in December, and by 2.5% for restaurants and hotels, while prices for clothing, furnishings and household products, and transport decreased.

The annual inflation rate averaged 2.3% in 2023, the statistics authority also reported, lower than government estimates of 2.6%, mainly on the back of increased prices for housing and utilities by 7.9%, and food and beverages by 1.4%.

Inflation remained relatively low in Saudi Arabia last year compared to global levels, with government policies limiting the impact of international price increases.

(Reporting by Rachna Uppal; Editing by Kim Coghill)