China consumer prices rise in December ahead of Chinese New Year

For the full year of 2020, consumer prices rose 2.5 per cent on-year.
For the full year of 2020, consumer prices rose 2.5 per cent on-year.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (AFP) - China's consumer prices rebounded in December, official data showed Monday, as food prices picked up due to weather difficulties and rising demand ahead of the Chinese New Year festival.

In December, the consumer price index (CPI) rose more than expected at 0.2 per cent on-year, said the National Bureau of Statistics, with prices increasing for fresh produce and meats such as pork, beef and mutton ahead of next month's nationwide holiday.

"Due to continued low temperatures, the production, storage and transportation costs of fresh vegetables and fruit increased," said NBS senior statistician Dong Lijuan.

The index is a key gauge of retail inflation, and the rebound follows the first negative reading in over a decade last month as food costs fell.

On Monday (Jan 11), Dong said that consumer demand was picking up due to New Year's Day and the upcoming Chinese New Year, bumping up prices of other food items.

But pork prices, which rocketed previously after an African swine fever outbreak ravaged pig stocks, continued to drop by 1.3 per cent on-year last month as supplies of the staple meat recovered.

For the full year of 2020, consumer prices rose 2.5 per cent on-year.

"The pork price cycle continues to weigh on the inflation outlook," said Zhaopeng Xing, senior China strategist at ANZ Research in a recent report, saying there had been a faster-than-expected recovery of hog stocks.

Meanwhile, the producer price index (PPI) which measures the cost of goods at the factory gate, fell 0.4 per cent on-year last month - better than November's 1.5 per cent drop.

"Domestic demand recovered steadily, coupled with the continued rise in prices of some international commodities," said Dong.

For the whole of 2020, PPI fell 1.8 per cent on-year.