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China Inflation Slows; Exports Boost Recovery Hopes


China's annual inflation slowed in January from a seven-month high on easing food inflation, while exports surged, underpinning hopes of a robust recovery.

Inflation slowed to 2 percent in January from 2.5 percent a month ago, the National Bureau of Statistics reported Friday. The annual rate matched economists' forecast.

Food prices advanced 2.8 percent, while non-food prices edged up 0.1 percent. Consumer prices climbed 1 percent in January from a month ago, when it grew 0.8 percent.

In December, cold weather triggered a rise in food prices and in turn lifted overall inflation.

Producer prices dropped 1.6 percent year-on-year in January, in line with forecast, but slower than the 1.9 percent fall logged in December.

The central bank this week signaled that it would pay special attention to inflation, as it sees rising risks to domestic prices from global liquidity and labor shortage. The bank cautioned that an economic recovery together with demand growth will raise consumer prices in a faster manner.

Another official report published today showed that both exports and imports expanded more-than-expected in January, suggesting a strong start in the domestic economy and abroad as well.

In the holiday distorted month of January, exports surged 25 percent, well above the expected 17.5 percent growth, figures from the the General Administration of Customs showed. Likewise, imports grew 28.8 percent in January compared to a 23.5 percent rise forecast by economists.

As a result, the trade surplus narrowed to $29.2 billion from $31.6 billion in December.

This January had more working days than in last year as the nation celebrated 2012 Lunar New Year holidays in January. Moreover, companies pushed ahead their orders before shutting for the week-long holiday in February, making the latest figures less comparable.

According to official figures, the economy expanded 7.9 percent in the fourth quarter, ending seven-quarters of slowdown. However, the economy grew 7.8 percent in whole year of 2012, the weakest pace in 13 years.

by RTTNews Staff Writer

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