China's consumer prices increase, factory prices ease

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China's consumer prices registered an expanded increase in September, while factory-gate inflation eased amid the country's efforts to secure sufficient supply and stable prices.

China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 2.8 percent year on year in September, expanding by 0.3 percentage points from August, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Friday.

On a monthly basis, September's CPI remained generally stable, reversing the 0.1-percent decline in August to inch up 0.3 percent.

Senior NBS statistician Dong Lijuan attributed the stable CPI performance to continuous efforts to coordinate COVID-19 prevention and control with economic and social development, as well as measures to ensure sufficient supply and stable prices.

Food prices went up 1.9 percent month on month, which raised the monthly consumer inflation by about 0.35 percentage points, according to the data.

Specifically, the price of fresh vegetables gained 6.8 percent month on month in September due to high temperatures and dry weather.

The price of pork, a staple meat in China, increased 5.4 percent month-on-month in September, partly due to the reluctance of some pork farmers to sell, while consumer demand rebounded. However, the rise of pork prices moderated in mid-to-late September as China stepped up measures to tame hog price hikes.

In September alone, the country released about 200,000 tonnes of pork from government reserves to the market, the highest monthly release in history, according to the country's top economic planner.

Driven by rising demand during the holiday season, the price of eggs and fresh fruits jumped by 6 percent and 1.3 percent from August, respectively.

Non-food prices rose 1.5 percent from a year ago, lifting the yearly consumer inflation by about 1.21 percentage points.

The prices of gasoline and diesel logged moderated year-on-year growth of 19.2 percent and 21 percent, respectively.

The core CPI, which excludes food and energy prices, gained 0.6 percent year on year in September, contracting 0.2 percentage points over the previous months.

Commenting on the CPI, Bruce Pang, the Greater China chief economist of real estate and investment management services firm JLL, said the CPI saw a notable increase since July, but the year-on-year growth remained within three percent, a sign of mounting but still manageable pressure from structural inflation.

China has rolled out multiple measures to tame price hikes. In addition to a highly market-based pricing mechanism, the country has introduced price management schemes for primary commodities such as pork and coal to ensure their prices run within reasonable zones.

Amid headwinds, China's market supply of daily necessities remained sufficient this year, and the overall price level is in a reasonable range, Niu Yubin, a senior official with the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a press conference at the end of September.

Despite rising imported inflation pressure, in the first eight months of this year, China's consumer price index grew only 1.9 percent year on year, much lower than the 8.3 percent for the United States and the 7.6 percent for the eurozone, Niu said.

Friday's data also showed that China's producer price index (PPI), which measures costs for goods at the factory gate, went up 0.9 percent year on year in September.

The figure moderated from the 2.3 percent year-on-year increase registered in August. On a monthly basis, China's PPI fell 0.1 percent in September.

As the monetary policies of major economies continue to tighten, and international commodity prices fluctuate, China faces less pressure from imported inflation, said Wen Bin, chief economist with China Minsheng Bank.

However, he cautioned about uncertainties stemming from the global geopolitical situation.

Looking ahead, Zhou Maohua, an analyst with the China Everbright Bank, anticipated that China's inflation would remain at an overall moderate and controllable level in the following months as domestic demand of the country continues to recover and the supply of daily necessities remains sufficient. 

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