Pricier accommodation and cars drove inflation to an eight-month high last month, sending the consumer price index up 2.6 per cent over the same month last year.

The index in November was also well above the 2 per cent recorded in October.

Apart from housing and cars, most other costs also rose faster last month than in October, compared with the same period a year ago.

Core inflation, which excludes accommodation and private road transport costs, rose to 2.1 per cent last month from 1.8 per cent in October - its highest level in the past year.

This was due mainly to pricier food, holiday travel and household services, said the Department of Statistics yesterday.

Economists say rising business rentals and labour costs are likely to continue pushing up prices well into next year as firms keep passing them on to consumers.

The prices of services like education, health care and miscellaneous services are rising at a faster pace, said CIMB economist Song Seng Wun.

Food inflation is also likely to continue to climb as a result of year-end demand and the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations, he added.

Barclays economist Joey Chew noted that the labour market has continued to tighten: "This will keep wage pressures high, and will also give producers the confidence to pass on cost increases to the consumer."

Higher accommodation costs accounted for around half of the pickup in overall inflation last month, said a joint statement from the Ministry of Trade and Industry and Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Accommodation costs include the cost of rented and owner-occupied homes, as well as minor repairs and maintenance. They went up more last month than in October, when the disbursement of rebates for service and conservancy fees to Housing Board households helped moderate price increases.

Higher certificate of entitlement (COE) premiums, meanwhile, pushed up private road transport costs, which rose 3.4 per cent last month following October's 2.7 per cent increase.

But Barclays' Ms Chew also noted that the prices of these "non- core" items - like cars and accommodation - have started easing.

For instance, average COE premiums reached $88,000 in October, but have since declined to end the year at $75,000.

However, core inflation is expected to continue going up - which might lead to some volatility in overall inflation in the coming months, she added.