China's consumer and factory prices rise in March

[BEIJING] Factory prices in China climbed further in March, growing at the fastest pace in more than two years, official data showed Friday - backed by a rise in commodity prices and the country's economic recovery from Covid-19.

The producer price index (PPI), which measures the cost of goods at the factory gate, exceeded expectations to grow 4.4 per cent from a year ago, said the National Bureau of Statistics.

The figure was "due to factors such as rising international commodity prices" including those of crude oil and iron ore, and boosted by an "increase in domestic industrial production and investment demand", said NBS senior statistician Dong Lijuan.

Analysts had expected the rise in PPI given the low base of comparison last year, when lockdowns and strict movement controls to stamp out Covid-19 - which first emerged in a central Chinese city - dragged economic activity.

But the economy has since bounced back after China brought the virus outbreak largely under control, with leaders setting a 2021 growth target of above six percent and a mass vaccination campaign underway.

The International Monetary Fund this week raised its growth forecast for China to 8.4 per cent as well, after the world's second largest economy became the only major one to expand last year.

Official data Friday showed China's consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.4 per cent on-year in March, with prices of some food items such as fresh fruit growing but that of pork dropping.

China's CPI, a key gauge of retail inflation, had in recent years been driven up by pork prices after an African swine fever outbreak ravaged stocks.

This has since stabilised with officials working to boost supplies of the country's staple meat.

AFP

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