By Lior Kagan with Reuters

Israeli consumer prices rose 0.2% in September from August led by a rise in fuel prices, the Central Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

The rise in the consumer price index was well below analysts' expectations, which ranged from an increase of 0.4% to 0.6% for the month.

The September hop marked the seventh straight monthly CPI increase.

Over the last 12 months, the CPI has risen 2.5%, keeping inflation within the government's 2.5-3.5% official target rate for all of 2001.

Since the beginning of the year, inflation has risen 2%. Most economists expect the CPI to end the year around 3%, double what analysts had predicted earlier in the year.

Inflation was nil in 2000 after a rise of 1.3 percent in 1999.

Fresh vegetable prices jumped 9%, fuel rose 2.3% and cigarette prices rose by 2%.

The gains were partly offset by a 4% in fresh fruit prices, a 15% slump in the cost of hotel stays and a 2% slide in shoe and clothing prices.