Consumer prices rose a lower than expected 0.9 percent in Morocco in 2010, with gains in food prices offset by lower communications costs, the state planning and statistics authority (HCP) said on Thursday.

Morocco's central bank said in December it expected inflation of around 1 percent, the same level as in 2009.

The government expects economic growth of 4 percent in 2010 and projected 5 percent growth and 2 percent inflation for 2011.

Underlying inflation, used by the central bank to set benchmark interest rate and excluding volatile prices and state tariffs, edged up 0.3 percent from a year ago and 0.4 percent from November, the HCP said.

The consumer price index recorded a 0.9 percent drop in December compared to the previous month, it added.

On the year, communication and culture-leisure prices fell, respectively 1.1 and 0.7 percent. Prices of food, thought to be the heaviest weighted component in the index, rose 1.2 percent.

The HCP did not give weighting percentages.