BUSINESS

China's inflation edges up in December despite lower crude prices, but increase still low

01/08/2015 10:12 EST | Updated 03/10/2015 05:59 EDT
BEIJING, China - China's consumer inflation edged up in December despite the slump in global oil prices but was still well below the official target.

Prices rose 1.5 per cent from a year earlier, up from November's 1.4 per cent increase, government data showed Friday. That was driven by sharp increases in the price of some food items, including 14 per cent for eggs and 10.4 per cent for fresh fruit.

For 2014, consumer prices rose 2 per cent, well below the official target of 3.5 per cent, according the National Bureau of Statistics.

Lower inflation gives Beijing room to cut interest rates or take other steps, if needed, to revive growth that slowed to a five-year low of 7.3 per cent in the quarter ending in September.

The decline came despite the plunge in global oil prices over the past six months. Energy accounts for a smaller share of inflation in China, where families spend up to half their incomes on food, than in developed economies.

"Although consumer price inflation has stabilized for now, we expect the fall in prices for oil and many agricultural commodities to push it slightly lower over the coming year," said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report. "Nonetheless, we don't expect it to fall to the levels currently seen in many developed countries."

Producer prices, measured as goods leave the factory, fell by 0.6 per cent from a year earlier, extending a lengthy period of declines blamed on excess production capacity in many industries.

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National Bureau of Statistics (in Chinese): www.stats.gov.cn