China's annual consumer inflation rate rose to a seven-month high of 3.1% in September as poor weather drove up food prices.
This limited the scope for the central bank to manoeuvre to support the economy even as exports showed a surprise decline.
But few analysts expect a further sharp rise in inflation or policy tightening in coming months as the world's second-largest economy still faces a weak global environment and Beijing tries to tap the brake on credit-fuelled investment.
The inflation rate was higher than a median forecast of 2.9% in a Reuters poll and August's 2.6%, but was still below the official target of 3.5% for 2013.
Month-on-month, consumer prices rose 0.8%, the National Bureau of Statistics said, bigger than a rise of 0.5% expected by economists.
Food prices gained 1.5% in September from August due to droughts and floods in some areas, pushing up the CPI by 0.51 percentage points, the bureau said in a statement. In annual terms, food prices jumped 6.1%.
China's exports dropped 0.3% in September from a year earlier, against expectations of a 6% rise, data showed over the weekend.
Factory-gate deflation eased further in September, although in annual terms prices still recoded a 19th consecutive fall. Producer prices fell 1.3% from a year earlier, a smaller fall than the 1.4% expected by the market and the 1.6% drop in August.
However, there was some relief to manufacturers struggling to cope with profit-eating price declines, as producer prices rose 0.2% from August.
After slowing in nine of the past 10 quarters, the economy looks to have stabilised since the middle of the year after Beijing acted to head off a sharper downturn with increased spending on public housing construction, railways and tax cuts for smaller firms.
Annual economic growth is forecast to have accelerated to 7.8% in the third quarter from 7.5% in the second quarter, but the recovery could fizzle towards the year-end, the Reuters poll showed.
Third-quarter GDP growth data, along with industrial output, fixed-asset investment and retail sales, is due on Friday.
Beijing has a growth target of 7.5%for 2013, which would be the weakest rate in more than 20 years, and has repeatedly said it would accept slower growth as it tries to wean the economy off dependence on investment and exports in favour of domestic consumption.