Econintersect: China’s National Bureau of Statistics announced this morning (9 April 2012) that the March CPI (Consumer Price Inflation) was 3.6% year-over-year. This was up sharply from the February number, 3.2%. The biggest impact came from rising food prices which were up 7.5% from a year ago. This also was a large change from February when food inflation was 6.2%. While the uptick in consumer inflation may raise some concerns, this increase is mitigated by PPI (Producer Price Index) which is deflating, down 0.3% year-over-year in March.
The value of the PPI has dropped back to December, 2009 levels, meaning that there has been zero PPI inflation over the past 27 months.
Here is an excerpt from the Shanghai Daily report:
“The inflation rebound is stronger than expected,” said Li Maoyu, an analyst at Changjiang Securities Co. “Such a rate may invite policymakers to be more cautious of any moves to stimulate the economy.”
Li said recent signals of consumer goods experiencing a new round of price increases triggered inflationary expectations again.
Last month, China raised the retail prices for gasoline and diesel by a larger-than-expected margin, and planned to introduce a graduated power tariff system. Afterwards, there were reports of higher prices of milk powder, cooking oil, fast food and shampoo, while producers cited more expensive raw materials and labor costs for their price jumps.
Cheng Siwei, a renowned economist and former vice chairman of China’s top legislature, said last week in Shanghai that the country should remain alert to inflation because speculative money tended to flow into the real goods market and bolster consumer prices when both housing and stock markets were weak.
Some other analysts were optimistic.
Lian Ping, chief economist at Bank of Communications, said inflation was still controllable and the country requires more measures to boost growth.
“Despite a rebound, it was the second month for the inflation rate to fall below the government target of 4 percent,” Lian said. “Considering the economic growth which may ease further, the country should cut the reserve requirement ratio at least once to stimulate the economy.”
All eyes now are pointed toward Friday when the first results will be announced for first quarter GDP, which is expected to come in at 8.5%, down from 8.9% for the final number for 4Q/2011.
- CPI rise defies expectations as higher food prices bite/ (Wang Yanlin, Shanghai Daily, 9 April 2012)