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Rate Hike Depends on May CPI Figures
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Zhou Xiaochuan, governor of China's central bank, has said a decision on whether to raise interest rates will wait till after the May consumer price index figures are released on June 12.


The People's Bank of China was closely watching the price hikes in food, including pork and eggs, to see how they would affect inflation, he said.


The price of pork rose 10.5 percent on average in May and that of eggs climbed 5.6 percent in 36 Chinese cities compared with April, according to the National Development and Reform Commission.


The People's Bank of China never excluded the use of policy instruments to curb inflation, but decisions must be made based on analysis of the economic data, the China Securities Journal on Wednesday quoted Zhou as saying.


Zhou said an interest rate hike would depend on the overall CPI, suggesting the central bank might raise interest rates if the CPI rose.


Food was one of many factors affecting inflation, Zhou said at a financial forum on Tuesday. Food products accounted for 33 percent of CPI in China, and meat, poultry and related products, about 20 percent.


Liang Hong, chief China economist of Goldman Sachs Asia, said the pork price hikes had pushed up prices of aquatic products and other food products.


Liang earlier predicted the rise in food prices would drive consumer inflation above four percent in the coming months.


She has raised the forecast of China's inflation in 2007 from 2.6 percent to 3.6 percent, higher than the target of three percent set by the government for the whole year.


The People's Bank of China raised the one-year deposit rate by 0.27 of a percentage point to 3.06 percent and the loan interest rate by 0.18 of a percentage point to 6.57 percent on May 19 amid efforts to reduce inflationary pressures and rein in rapid growth in investment.


China's inflation picked up in March with the CPI hitting 3.3 percent and three percent in April.


(Xinhua News Agency June 6, 2007)


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