Dow Jones Newswires: China’s inflation pressure eased further in February

BEIJING–China’s factory-gate prices grew at their slowest pace in eight months in February as consumer price inflation stayed flat, official data showed Wednesday, leaving room for the central bank to ease monetary policy to boost demand.

The producer price index rose 8.8% from a year earlier in February, decelerating from a 9.1% increase in January, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. The reading was in line with the expectations of economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

However, on a monthly basis, PPI swung to positive territory last month, ticking up 0.5% amid a rise in the prices of international commodities like crude oil and non-ferrous metals, said Dong Lijuan, a senior statistician with China’s statistics bureau.

The sharp rise in international crude prices has driven up prices in domestic oil-related industries, while coal prices have continued to fall, the bureau said.

China’s consumer price index increased 0.9% from a year earlier last month, on par with the pace recorded in January and also in line with what economists in the WSJ poll had forecast.

Food prices fell 3.9% from a year earlier, offsetting the increase in non-food prices, which rose 2.1% last month. In the meantime, due to the Lunar New Year Holiday, the transportation and entertainment consumption prices climbed, the bureau said.

The CPI rose 0.6% on a monthly basis in February.

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