China's consumer inflation rose 1.8 percent in April, marking the lowest rate since October 2012 due to declines in food prices, official data showed Friday.
The consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, was down from March's 2.4 percent rise, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement. The index remained well below the government's inflation target of 3.5 percent for this year.
Food prices, which account for a third of the basket of goods in China's CPI calculation, gained 2.3 percent from a year earlier, down from 4.1 percent in March, according to the bureau.
The producer price index, a main gauge of inflation at the wholesale level, fell 2.0 percent in April from the year before, compared to the 2.3-percent drop in March.
Niu Li, an economist at the State Information Center, said the moderate CPI was a "reflection of the weak overall demand and slower economic growth," according to state-run Xinhua News Agency.
The lower CPI came as China's economy is showing signs of slowing down. For the January-March period, the economy grew by 7.4 percent, down from 7.7 percent in the fourth quarter of 2013 and marking the lowest quarterly growth level since the third quarter of 2012. As to speculation that the government may loosen policy to bolster growth, Niu said the "basic tone" of the monetary policy would remain unchanged, but there might be some fine tuning.
The central bank vowed to maintain "continuity and stability" of its monetary policy in a report released on Tuesday. The People's Bank of China will continue to adopt a prudent monetary policy and fine tune it in light of changes so that the policy can stabilize growth, boost reforms, adjust structures, enhance people's welfare and prevent risks, said the repor