Inflation rose marginally to 8.31 per cent for the month ended February, driven by high food and fuel prices, which may prompt the RBI to hike interest rates when it reviews the monetary policy later this week.

However, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee expressed hope that inflation should come down to 7 per cent by next month-end.

“By March-end, it would be possible to have around 7-7.5 per cent (inflation),” Mukherjee told reporters in the Parliament House complex.

Monthly fluctuations in inflation do not give a correct picture, he added.

The inflation rate stood at 8.23 per cent in January this year, whereas it was 9.42 per cent in February last year.

The rise in inflation was mainly on account of higher milk, edible oil, vegetable and fruit prices.

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