Norway's core inflation rate fell below expectation in February, Statistics Norway (SSB) data showed on Monday, supporting the central bank's view that interest rates will fall later this year.

Core inflation, which strips out changing energy prices and taxes, stood at 4.9% year on year, while analysts polled by Reuters on average had expected the rate to remain unchanged from January at 5.3%.

The central bank in December raised its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 4.50% in a surprise decision, and has said the cost of borrowing would likely stay at that level "for some time ahead" before being cut.

Norway's currency, the crown, traded unchanged against the euro at 11.41 by 0708 GMT.

Norges Bank in December projected year-on-year core inflation for February of 5.4%, and is due to release a new forecast later this month.

Headline inflation, which includes changes in energy costs and taxes, meanwhile fell in February to 4.5%, while analysts in a Reuters poll on average had expected the year-on-year rate to rise to 4.9% from 4.7% in January.

The price of food rose by 6.3% over the 12 months since February of last year, the SSB data showed. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik, editing by Stine Jacobsen)