MEXICO CITY - Mexican annual inflation eased slightly in the first half of May compared to the previous two-week period, but inflationary pressures remained well above the central bank's target, official data showed on Tuesday.

Headline inflation dipped to 7.58% in early May from 7.65% during the last two weeks of April, the latest figures published by national statistics agency INEGI showed. A Reuters poll of economists had forecast a rate of 7.60%.

Compared with the previous two-week period, consumer prices fell 0.06% during the first half of May, INEGI said.

The Bank of Mexico targets an inflation rate of 3%, plus or minus one percentage point.

The closely watched core price index, which strips out some volatile food and energy items, was up 0.31% in early May. The annual core inflation rate climbed to 7.24% in early May from 7.16% during the first half of April.

Banxico, as the central bank is known, raised its benchmark interest 50 basis points this month to 7.00% in an effort to contain surging inflation.

(Reporting by Brendan O'Boyle, Editing by Bernadette Baum)