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China’s Consumer Prices Decline for First Time Since 2009

Economic IndicatorsDec 09, 2020 03:27
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(Bloomberg) -- China’s consumer prices fell for the first time in more than a decade, dragged down by a slump in pork prices after supplies recovered from last year’s swine disease.

  • The consumer price index fell 0.5% last month from a year earlier -- the first contraction since October 2009 -- following a 0.5% gain in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said Wednesday. The median forecast in a Bloomberg survey of economists was 0%
  • Factory deflation eased, with the producer price index declining 1.5% on year, compared with a 2.1% decrease in October. The median estimate was -1.8%

Key Insights

  • Consumer-price inflation has been on a downward spiral in recent months, largely due to an easing of pork prices -- a key element in the CPI basket -- from last year’s surge
  • Food prices fell 2% in November from a year ago, while pork prices plunged 12.5%
  • Deflation in consumer prices will likely be temporary though as the economic recovery strengthens. China’s exports surged more than 20% last month, while the purchasing managers’ index reached a three-year high
  • Core inflation, which removes the more volatile food and energy prices, was unchanged at 0.5%. China International Capital Corp. economists led by Huang Wenjing wrote in a note that the core measure will continue to pick up as the recovery gathers momentum
  • With the central bank signaling it wants to withdraw monetary stimulus, it’s unlikely the latest CPI figures will prompt it to ease policy. However, economists say falling prices could be harmful amid the recovery if consumers and businesses delay purchases in anticipation of lower prices
  • Xing Zhaopeng, a markets economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group (OTC:ANZBY) in Shanghai, said it’s unlikely that consumer deflation will persist, given “higher crude prices and the coming peak season of travel before the New Year.” He added “the broad improvement in producer prices signals the low risk of deflation in 2021.”

(Updates with comment from economist in last bullet point.)

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

China’s Consumer Prices Decline for First Time Since 2009
 

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