Inflation rises in China

china inflation cpi
Rising food prices led a broad measure of consumer prices higher in China in November.

Inflation in China accelerated in November, as economic growth picked up and food prices rose.

Chinese consumers paid 2% more for goods and services in November than they did a year ago, the government's National Bureau of Statistics reported Sunday.

While that's up from a 1.7% annual increase in October, it nevertheless represents tame inflation for the world's second largest economy. A year ago, the country was experiencing an annual inflation rate of 4%.

The Chinese government prefers to keep its annual inflation rate below 4% -- a level it sees as consistent with healthy economic growth and consumer demand.

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Price hikes were the most dramatic for food. Food prices rose 3% year-over-year -- fresh vegetables rose the most, up 11.3% over a year ago.

Food is an important gauge of cost of living expenses in China. It accounts for more than a third of the country's inflation calculation, and for rural families, it makes up the bulk of expenses.

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Higher prices coincided with stronger factory output and retail sales in November, according to separate reports also released Sunday. Should those trends continue, economists say the fourth quarter may mark a turning point for China, after an otherwise weak year for its economy.

"Overall, we believe economic momentum has turned a corner since September, with recent data pointing to a continuing recovery," Barclays' economist Steven Lingxiu Yang said in a research note.

China is unlikely to return to the days of 10% economic growth per year but may be reaching a "new normal of slower growth", he said. China's economy grew 7.4% in the third quarter, compared to a year earlier.

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