Norway's annual core inflation rate eased in May, but the decline was smaller than had been expected, Statistics Norway (SSB) data showed on Monday.

Core inflation, which strips out changing energy prices and taxes, stood at 4.1% year on year, down from 4.4% in April but exceeding the 4.0% average forecast of analysts polled by Reuters.

The Norwegian central bank's own projection for May core inflation stood at 4.2%.

Norges Bank last month kept interest rates on hold at a 16-year high and said a tight monetary policy stance may be needed for somewhat longer than planned in order to curb prices.

The central bank will release new economic projections on June 20, including a new rate forecast. (Reporting by Louise Rasmussen, editing by Stine Jacobsen)