CAIRO - Egypt's annual urban consumer price inflation dropped to 29.8% in January from 33.7% in December, the state statistics agency said on Thursday, coming in well below analysts' expectations.

Month-on-month, prices rose by 1.6% in January, up from 1.4% in December. Food prices climbed by 1.4%, down from 2.1% in December. In the year to January, food prices rose by 47.5%, down from 60.5% in the year to December.

A median of 18 analysts had forecast annual inflation to slow to 32.5%, according to a Reuters poll.

Egypt's inflation rate has been sliding from a historic high of 38.0% in September.

Core inflation, which excludes fuel and some volatile food items, declined to 29.0% in January from 34.2% in December, the central bank said. A median of five of the analysts had expected it only to slow to 31.9%.

(Writing by Ahmed Elimam and Patrick Werr; Editing by Alison Williams, Christina Fincher and Andrew Heavens)