Slower China inflation reduces worries of tighter policy

Monday 09 December 2013 15.03
China's annual consumer inflation unexpectedly slowed to 3% in November
China's annual consumer inflation unexpectedly slowed to 3% in November

China's annual consumer inflation unexpectedly slowed in November, easing market fears of any imminent policy tightening as authorities meet this week to outline their policy and reform priorities for 2014.

Annual consumer inflation unexpectedly slowed to 3% in November from an eight-month high of 3.2%, the National Bureau of Statistics said today.

Analysts had expected the inflation rate to hold steady at October's level.

From a month earlier, consumer prices fell 0.1%, the first fall in six months and slightly weaker than market expectations they would be flat.

Producer prices fell 1.4% in November from a year earlier - the 21st consecutive month of decline - versus a fall of 1.5% in the previous month, the bureau said.

On a monthly basis, producer prices were unchanged.

A strong jump in exports and a run of surveys of factory and service sector activity indicate the world's second-largest economy has regained some momentum since arresting a protracted slowdown in the middle of the year.

But data on factory output, fixed-asset investment and retail sales due tomorrow is expected to show some moderation, consistent with expectations annual growth will slow slightly in the fourth quarter from the third.

A Reuters poll in October showed annual growth was forecast to slow to 7.5% in the final quarter of 2013 from 7.8% in the September quarter. Full-year growth was forecast at 7.6% - the weakest in 14 years, but just ahead of the government's target of 7.5%.

China's leaders have said they will accept slower growth as they try to remake the economy so it is not dependent on investment and exports and instead driven by consumption, services and innovation, which they consider more sustainable.

Top government think tanks, which make policy proposals for the leadership, are debating whether the growth target should be cut to 7% in 2014, but the official China Securities Journal said the government would probably keep it at 7.5%.

"Reform is more important than growth, but that does not mean that we will allow a 'hard landing' in China's economy. We need appropriate economic growth to help maintain employment and social stability," the paper said in a front-page commentary.

"Economic growth target for 2014 is more likely to be maintained at around 7.5%," it said.