Spain's consumer price inflation slowed to 3.3% in March, its weakest annual rate since August 2021 and down from 6.0% in February, preliminary data from the National Statistics Institute showed on Thursday.

Analysts polled by Reuters had expected a rate of 3.8%.

This drop is mainly due to the fact that electricity and fuel prices increased in March 2022 and decreased this month, the statistics agency said.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile fresh food and energy prices, was 7.5% year-on-year, slightly below the 7.6% recorded in February, the data showed.

Food prices have hit Spaniards' wallets hard, climbing more than 16% in February from a year earlier.

The government cut value added tax on essential foods such as bread, cheese, milk, fruit and vegetables and cereals to 0% from 4% to ease the inflation pain.

Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino said earlier this month that she expects inflation will be lower this year than in 2022 though there will be "a lot of volatility" each month.

Spain's European Union-harmonised 12-month inflation was 3.1%, down from 6.0% in February and below the 4.0% expected by analysts polled by Reuters. (Reporting by Matteo Allievi, editing by Inti Landauro and Christina Fincher)