Clothes vendor looks on as she waits for customers in Beijing
Beijing - AFP
China's consumer inflation held steady at 1.4 percent in March, the government said Friday, amid a broad slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.
According to the figures from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the increase in the consumer price index (CPI) was the same as in February, when it rose from a more than five-year low in January.
The result was slightly higher than the 1.3 percent median gain in a survey of 39 economists by Bloomberg News.
Economists have previously expressed concerns about the risk of deflation in China.
Moderate inflation can be a boon to consumption as it encourages consumers to buy before prices go up, while falling prices encourage shoppers to delay purchases and companies to put off investment, both of which can hurt growth.
Separately, the producer price index (PPI) -- a measure of costs for goods at the factory gate and a leading indicator of the trend for CPI -- declined for the 37th straight month in March.
PPI fell 4.6 percent year-on-year, better than the 4.8 percent decline recorded in February, which was the worst result since October 2009.
That was also better than the median forecast of 4.8 percent decline in a Bloomberg poll of 35 economists.
Earlier this year the central People's Bank of China cut benchmark interest rates for the second time in three months, citing "historically low inflation", as China's economy grows at is slowest annual pace in nearly a quarter of a century.