Inflation has breached the upper end of its official 3%-6% target range for the first time in nearly two years, but does not alter the view that the Reserve Bank will keep interest rates steady for as long as possible.

The annual rise in the consumer price index, was 6,1% last month, up from 6% in October but just below consensus forecasts for a 6,2% increase, data from Statistics SA showed on Wednesday.

The increase was driven mainly by higher prices for food and fuel, as well as rising tariffs for housing and utilities.

"The data confirms that upward price pressures are building up," said Standard Bank economist Tebogo Mosepele.

Ms Mosepele said that the door remained open for further rate cuts in 2012, given "compelling" evidence of the global and domestic economic slowdown. Most analysts believe the Bank will keep its repo rate steady at 5,5% for most if not all of next year.

During the month itself, inflation rose by 0,3%, slowing from 0,5% in October.