China inflation up over higher food prices
Beijing, April 12, 2014
China's consumer inflation rate increased in March as fresh food prices jumped, but persistent deflation in the industrial sector was another signal of weak demand and slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 2.4 per cent in March from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said yesterday, more from a 2 per cent rise in February but just below the median forecast in a Reuters poll.
Fresh food prices were a major contributor, with fruit prices up an annual 17.3 per cent and vegetables up 12.9 per cent, although analysts said food inflation was showing signs of moderating.
Producer prices fell in annual terms for the 25th straight month, dropping 2.3 per cent, slightly more than expected.
"Overall, we expect inflation pressures to remain benign amid tepid domestic demand," Barclays economists said.
Weak trade data this week added to an almost unabated run of disappointing data this year. Authorities have ruled out any major stimulus to boost the economy, although they have announced some smaller, targeted measures.
"The current environment in some ways serves as a litmus test for the government's commitment to allowing a more "decisive" role for market forces in the economy - market forces would drive up the cost of scarce resources, raising CPI inflation," said Bill Adams, senior international economist for PNC Financial Services.
The consumer price index rose 2.3 per cent in the first quarter from a year earlier, to be running below the government's 2014 target of about 3.5 per cent. While consumer prices have steadily risen, producer prices fell at the quickest pace in eight months in March, driven primarily by drops in mining and metal costs.