China's producer and consumer inflation eased as expected in January, despite global markets nosediving on fears that price pressures are growing in the US and Europe. 

A moderation in Chinese inflation would support the view that the world's second-largest economy is slowly starting to lose momentum after forecast-beating growth of 6.9% in 2017. 

But data from China early in the year must always be treated with caution due to business and price distortions caused by the timing of the long Lunar New Year celebrations.

The Chinese New Year fell in late January 2017 but starts in mid-February this year. 

China's producer inflation eased for a third month in a row in January and by slightly more than expected, official data showed today, suggesting last year's strong profit growth in its industrial sector may start to fade.

Lower revenues could impair Chinese firms' ability to service a mountain of debt as Beijing works to reduce risks in the financial system. 

The producer price index rose 4.3% in January from a year earlier, the smallest rise in 14 months and compared with 4.9% in December. 

Analysts had expected a reading of 4.4%, citing milder price rises for raw materials and finished goods like steel. 

On a monthly basis, the PPI rose 0.3% in January, less than half the pace seen in the previous month.

China's consumer inflation also eased to the lowest since July 2017. 

The consumer price index rose 1.5% from a year earlier, in line with expectations and slowing from December's gain of 1.8%, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said. 

On a month-on-month basis, CPI rose 0.6% in January. 

The food price index declined 0.5% from a year earlier due to a higher base last year, after falling 0.4% in December. Non-food prices rose 2%, compared with 2.4% in December. 

The milder inflation readings are somewhat at odds with strong import and export data this week, which suggested China's economy largely retained its momentum or possibly even picked up a step at the start of the year. 

But analysts said the softer January price data by itself did not suggest the economy is at risk of a sharper slowdown, as it can be too skewed by seasonal factors. 

Indeed, the consensus view is that China will see only a modest pullback in GDP growth to 6.4% this year.