Inflation slows in China

Susan Watts  NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images He Pingping – the shortest man in the world

Excluding energy and food, consumer prices rose 0.2%, extending a trend of steady growth.

Yearly rate of consumer inflation climbs to one-year high of 2.4%.

Inflation slowed in March for the third consecutive month, according to the National Institute of Statistics and Geography (Inegi).

China will on Wednesday release March figures for consumer and producer prices, highlighting a busy day for Asia-Pacific economic activity. By that measure, overall prices rose 1.8% in the year through February, with core prices up 1.6%.

The Federal Reserve last month increased its benchmark interest rate by a quarter-point and signaled that it expected to raise rates a total of three times this year, the same number of rate hikes it delivered in 2017.

That was in line with the flash data published on March 29. Including all items, the CPI was down 0.1 percent from February on a drop in gasoline costs, with the index up 2.4 percent from a year earlier, also the most in a year.

Economists had forecast the CPI unchanged in March and the core CPI rising 0.2 per cent.

The fuel price slump was likely to be dismissed as noise, since economists have predicted the volatility in the spring months after seeing similar moves a year ago. The soft headline monthly inflation reading is likely to be temporary as a report on Tuesday showed producer prices rising solidly in March amid strong increases in health care and food costs.

The core CPI was lifted by rising rents and healthcare costs.

But with the labour market tightening, the dollar weakening and the stimulus from a $1.5 trillion income tax cut package and increased government spending still to impact on the economy, economists expect inflation will breach its target some time this year. Prices of cereals and bakery products rose 0.4 percent. Prices consumers paid for clothing went down 0.6 percent.

The annual rate was well below the 2.9% level reported in February and forecasts for a smaller decrease to 2.6%.

In annual terms, food prices rose by 4.1%, within which eggs became 27.0%, butter 14.2%, pasta products 11.1%, milk products 6.9%, milk 5.9% and bread 5.6% more expensive.

There were also declines in the cost of telecommunication, used cares and trucks, tobacco and education.