A customer selects fruits in a supermarket in Cangzhou
Beijing - XINHUA
Growth in China's consumer inflation slowed from market expectation by 1.6 percent in September, the lowest since January 2010, data showed on Wednesday.
This is compared with an increase of 2 percent registered in August, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement on its website.
On a monthly basis, the consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.5 percent last month, faster than August's 0.2-percent increase.
The CPI grew 2.1 percent year on year in the first nine months, well below the 3.5-percent full-year control target set by the government.
In September, food prices, which account for about one-third of the weighting in the CPI calculation, climbed 2.3 percent from one year earlier, slowing from August's 3-percent rise.
The NBS also said producer price index (PPI), which measures inflation at wholesale level, fell 1.8 percent year on year in September, quicker than a 1.2-percent year-on-year decline in August. The PPI has declined 31 months in a row, signaling overcapacity in the country's factories and weaker commodities prices.
The inflation data indicated the country's economy is still struggling with sluggish domestic demand, fueling speculation that policymakers will take more measures to stabilize the economy.
China International Capital Corporation, a leading investment bank, said in a report Monday that CPI rise in October may be flat with that in September, expecting the country to continue to ease its monetary policy.
Liu Ligang, chief Greater China economist at ANZ Banking Group., said the figures showed China's deflationary pressure is rising. "Domestic demand is very weak, and monetary policy is slightly tight."
Liu expected the country's CPI increase to dip below 2 percent in the last quarter of the year and cut his forecast for CPI's full-year rise to 2 percent from previous 2.2-2.3 percent.
Trade data on Monday showed China's export performance in September beat forecasts by rising at its fastest pace in 19 months, while import growth also accelerated more than expected to 7 percent year on year.
Kuang Xianming, director of Research Center for Economy under China Institute For Reform and Development, said though downward pressure is building up on the economy, there is no need to be over pessimistic because the chance for a hard-landing is slim with the country continued to promote reforms.
China's shares rose after the release of the September inflation data, amid investors hopes that the government might roll out more policy-easing measures.
The Chinese economy expanded 7.4 percent in the first half of the year, down from full-year growth of 7.7 percent last year. The government set a growth target of around 7.5 percent for 2014.
Premier Li Keqiang said at a China-Germany economic and technological cooperation forum last week that China has the conditions and capability to achieve an economic growth of around 7.5 percent this year.
Li added that a pace around the 7.5 percent target -- whether slightly higher or lower -- will be acceptable as long as employment is guaranteed, household income rises and quality and efficiency improved.
The NBS is scheduled to release third-quarter GDP growth rate along with September retail sales, industrial output and investment data on Oct. 21.