BERLIN - Inflation eased significantly in Germany in March on the back of lower energy prices but was above forecasts, adding pressure on the European Central Bank to further tighten its monetary policy.

German consumer prices, harmonised to compare with other European Union countries, rose by a more-than-anticipated 7.8% on the year in March, preliminary data from the federal statistics office showed on Thursday.

Compared to February, prices increased by 1.1%, it added.

Analysts had expected harmonised data to increase by 0.8% on the previous month and grow by 7.5% on an annual basis.

According to non-harmonised standards, German consumer prices rose 7.4% on the year in March and 0.8% on the month. This follows an inflation rate of 8.7% in February and January.

Food prices continued to show above-average growth. They were up 22.3% year-on-year.

The decline in the inflation rate was entirely driven by a slowdown in energy prices, which rose only 3.5% compared with March 2022, when energy prices soared following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The statistics office offers a breakdown for March figures on its website.

(Reporting by Miranda Murray and Maria Martinez; editing by Friederike Heine)