Czech inflation unexpectedly slowed in August for the first time since the central bank began a hefty policy tightening cycle in June 2021, data showed on Monday.

The year-on-year inflation rate eased to 17.2%, from 17.5% in July, with slowing fuel price growth helping, the Czech statistics office said. On a monthly basis, consumer prices rose 0.4%.

Both figures were below expectations in a Reuters poll that had forecast a 17.7% year-on-year and 0.8% month-on-month rise.

Jakub Seidler, chief economist with the Czech Banking Association, said it may still be too early to say the accelerating inflation of the past year had peaked.

"High energy prices are getting to CPI more slowly than expected," he said, adding methodology may play a role.

"But a slowdown (after any peak) will be weaker than expected because other price increases will be gradually pushing (pressure) up."

Central Europe has battled surging inflation with sharp interest rate rises since last year, but many policymakers are now largely looking to stabilise policy as price growth nears peaks and economies slow quickly due to fast-eroding purchasing power among households hit by high prices.

In Romania, data on Monday showed inflation reaching 15.3% in August, a touch above expectations.

The Czech National Bank forecast inflation at 19.3% in August and expects it to top 20% in September.

It held interest rates in August when its revamped board met for the first time under new Governor Ales Michl, who had opposed policy tightening as a board member. But it has not completely shut the door on further hikes.

(Reporting by Jason Hovet in Prague; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)