(Bloomberg) -- Pakistan’s inflation slowed for a second straight month in February as easing commodity prices and moderating food costs helped curb price gains. 

Consumer prices rose 23.06% from a year ago, according to data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics on Friday. That compares with a median estimate for a 23.65% gain in a Bloomberg survey and a reading of 28.34% in January.

Easing inflation provides some reprieve to the nation’s central bank that expected price gains to trend lower in the coming months. The monetary authority kept rates on hold for the fifth straight meeting in January as authorities look to tame Asia’s fastest inflation. The next policy review is scheduled for March 18. 

Pakistan has raised energy prices and taxes to meet the conditions under the International Monetary Fund program that ends in April. Cooling inflation further and negotiating a fresh IMF loan will be a key priority for the newly elected government led by former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif.

The nation’s new administration will seek a loan of at least $6 billion to avert an economic crisis and repay billions of dollars in debt due this year. 

Food costs rose 18.15% from a year ago period compared with 24.96% last month. Transport prices climbed 15%, while housing costs increased by 36.08%, the data showed.

--With assistance from Khalid Qayum.

(Updates with details in final paragraph)

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