Chinese inflation remains high amid signs of economic slowdown
China’s consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, grew 6.1% from a year earlier, down slightly from a 6.2% rise in August.
The index remains far above the 4% annual target set by the central government, making it difficult to loosen monetary policy if China’s economy is pulled into a global decline.
There’s evidence that the world’s second-largest economy may be slowing down.
Trade data released Thursday showed Chinese exports decreased in September over slackening European demand and a strengthening yuan, the country’s currency.
Prices for crude oil and copper fell on news of the data, reflecting jitteriness in China’s ability to import commodities as voraciously as it has in the past.
Meanwhile, thousands of small businesses in China’s coastal provinces are reportedly being squeezed by the country’s credit crunch. China’s State Council said it would support the small firms by increasing loans and offering tax breaks.
But central leaders say reining in inflation remains an overall priority –- dulling expectations that policymakers will loosen credit, drop interest rates or lift buying restrictions in China’s stagnant residential property market.
“For the moment, we remain in policy stasis -– no more tightening, but no real loosening -– while Chinese authorities nervously eye developments in the Eurozone,” said Alistair Thornton, an analyst for IHS Global Insight in Beijing. “It is the Eurozone and U.S. that form the greatest downside risk for China’s outlook.”
-- David Pierson
Photo: Customers look at prices for vegetables at a supermarket in Hefei, China. Credit: Reuters