China’s consumer prices climb in January as food costs rise
BEIJING: China's consumer price inflation picked up in January, led by food costs ahead of the week-long Lunar New Year holiday. The consumer-price index rose 1.8 percent in January from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said Thursday, compared with 1.6 percent a month earlier. The producer-price index fell 5.3 percent, compared to a 5.9 percent decrease in December, extending declines to a record 47 months. A sustained acceleration in consumer price gains may offer policy makers some relief as they battle to underpin growth while tackling overcapacity. While the world's second-largest economy has shown some signs of economic stabilization, the lingering lack of pricing power -- especially among the nation's factories -- still signals tepid demand. "The deflation pressures are much, much bigger than the inflation pressures," said Larry Hu, head of China economics at Macquarie Securities Ltd. in Hong Kong. "The data shows that the economy is pretty weak." NBS said food prices rose 4.1 percent from a year earlier, picking up from 2.7 percent in December for the quickest pace of gains since May 2014. A food price tracker by Bloomberg Intelligence rose 3 percent in January from a year earlier, compared with a 2.2 percent gain in December. "The uptick in consumer prices is certainly striking," Bloomberg Intelligence economists Tom Orlik and Fielding Chen wrote in a report. "But with virtually the entirety of the increase coming from food prices, it's not an increase that's likely to be sustained for long.