Rising inflation is worrying most Chinese consumers and enterprises despite government efforts to rein in prices, as current price levels had both dampened consumer satisfaction and entrepreneurs' confidence, the Chinese central bank said Wednesday.
The proportion of Chinese citizens satisfied with current price levels had sunk to an 11-year low, the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China's central bank, said in a statement published on the website.
The central bank conducted the 20,000-respondent survey during the fourth quarter in 50 cities across China.
The Residents' Price Satisfaction Index fell to 13.8 percent -- the lowest since the fourth quarter of 1999, when the quarterly survey began.
Some 73.9 percent of respondents said current prices were "too high to be acceptable," up 15.6 percentage points from the third quarter, while 61.4 percent said they expected prices to continue to rise into the next quarter.
China's consumer price index, a measure of inflation, jumped to a 28-month high at 5.1 percent in November, boosted mainly by soaring food prices. The November CPI figure well exceeded the Chinese government's full-year CPI target ceiling of 3 percent.
Some 75.5 percent of respondents said the current price of property is too high to accept, the highest since the central bank started the survey on home prices in 2009.
Some 43.3 percent of respondents said property prices will continue to rise, up 6.8 percentage points from a quarter earlier.
Property prices in China's major cities rose 0.3 percent in November from October, even though the government has rolled out measures to cool the market, the NBS said Friday.
"The cautious consumer sentiment reveals Chinese residents are not optimistic about future adjustments in price levels, which is not conducive to consumption expansion," the PBOC report said.
Some 45.2 percent of respondents said they intended to invest more for the future, with 37.6 percent willing to deposit their money in banks.
Only 17.3 percent of respondents said they intended to consume more.
In another PBOC quarterly survey of about 20,000 Chinese firms, China's business climate index, a major measure of macro-economic outlook, grew to 71.3 percent in the fourth quarter.
However, Chinese entrepreneurs confidence index fell to 74.2 percent, down 5.2 percentage points from the previous quarter.
The central bank attributed the fall in entrepreneurs confidence to rising production costs triggered by price hikes, since the domestic market demand was still kept at a stable level.
PBOC survey also showed that fewer Chinese bankers were confident in the macro-economy, as Chinese bankers confidence index retreated to 53.5 percent this quarter, the lowest level of 2010, and up to 44.7 percent of them thought China's economy was "hot" or "overheated."
Meanwhile, only 49.9 percent of the bankers believed that the economy was operating at a "normal" level, down 21.4 percentage points from the third quarter, and 37.4 percent of the bankers expected the economy to continue the overheated trend in the next quarter.
China's economy grew 9.6 percent year on year in the third quarter this year, slowing from the 10.3-percent increase in the second quarter and 11.9-percent surge in the first quarter.
PBOC data showed new yuan loans hit 564 billion yuan (85.45 billion U.S. dollars) in November, indicating that full-year lending would exceed the 7.5-trillion-yuan target set at the start of the year.
The Chinese government had taken various measures to rein in price hikes, including boosting supply of essential goods, giving financial aid to the needy, and mopping up excessive liquidity by hiking both the required reserve ratio and interest rates.
The Chinese government said its macro-economic regulation next year would basically be proactive, stable, prudent and flexible, according to a statement released Sunday after the annual Central Economic Work Conference.
The National Development and Reform Commission, China's top economic planner, said Wednesday that the primary task for next year's price regulation was to maintain the overall price level stability by strengthening price controls through various methods and price reform.
The NDRC made the remarks in a statement posted on its website after the start of a meeting of Chinese local price regulators on Wednesday, which focused on the price trend next year.