New Delhi: Encouraged by a steep fall in food inflation to 8 per cent, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Thursday said the overall rate of price rise will moderate to around 6-7 per cent by March, 2012.

 "If this trend continues, perhaps we may have the year-end inflation at around 6-7 per cent," Mukherjee told reporters here.

Headline inflation, which include prices of food items, besides manufactured products, fuel and non-food primary articles, is currently hovering near the double-digit mark.

Mukherjee made the statement while commenting on a sharp fall in food inflation to 8 per cent for the week ended November 19 from 9.01 per cent in the previous week.

"After the month of August, for the first time it (food inflation) has come down to 8 per cent non-food inflation is steadily declining. In October 29, it was 6 per cent and now (it has) declined to 2.14 per cent," he said.

Inflation in the overall primary articles category stood at 7.74 per cent during the week ended November 19, as against 9.08 per cent in the previous week.

Inflation in non-food articles was recorded at 2.14 per cent during the week under review, as against 4.05 per cent in the previous week ended November 12.

The decline in the rate of price rise in food items is likely to provide some relief to the government and the Reserve Bank, which have been facing flak from all quarters for persistently high prices.

Headline inflation has been above the 9 per cent-mark since December, 2010. It stood at 9.73 per cent in October this year.

In its second quarterly review of the monetary policy last month, RBI said it expects inflation to remain elevated till December on account of the demand-supply mismatch before moderating to 7 per cent by March, 2012.