China's Feb Consumer Inflation Hits Over 4-Year High as Food Prices Rise

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03/09/2018 | 03:20 am

BEIJING--China's consumer inflation accelerated sharply in February, rising to an over four-year high, as food prices rose for the first time in over a year on Lunar New Year holiday demand, official data showed Friday.

China's consumer price index increased 2.9% in February from a year earlier, compared with a 1.5% gain in January, the National Bureau of Statistics said. Consumer inflation was the strongest since November 2013, when the CPI rose 3.02% on year.

Food prices rose 4.4% from a year earlier, gaining ground for the first time since January 2017, after dropping 0.5% in January. Food prices often strengthen in the month of the Lunar New Year holidays. This year, the holiday was in February versus January last year. The seasonal factor suggests the latest uptick in inflation could be short-lived.

Non-food prices grew 2.5% on year, compared with 2.0% on-year growth in January.

The key inflation reading outpaced a 2.5% gain forecast by economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

Speaking at the National People's Congress on Monday, Premier Li Keqiang said that the government aims to keep inflation under about 3% this year.

On a month-over-month basis, the CPI rose 1.2% in February from a month earlier. In January, the index climbed 0.6% from the previous month.

The producer price index rose 3.7% in February, slowing for a fourth-straight month, compared with a 4.3% on-year increase in January.

The reading for factory-gate prices came in slightly slower than a forecast for a 3.8% increase by the economists.

The PPI edged down 0.1% in February from a month earlier. In January, it rose 0.3% from the preceding month.

-Write to Liyan Qi at [email protected]

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