Food prices rise pushes inflation up 1.6 percent

BEIJING: China's consumer inflation edged up 1.6 percent in December year on year as food prices rose, official data showed Saturday.

The inflation rate reported by the National Bureau of Statistics was up from November's 1.5 percent and was driven by a 1.5 percent increase in food prices. The price of fresh vegetables jumped 13.7 percent and fresh fruits went up 2.3 percent.

Consumer inflation had been drifting down after hitting 2 percent in August. Relatively low inflation has given Chinese leaders room to cut interest rates six times since November 2014 to stimulate the slowing economy.

Saturday's data showed that consumer prices were up 1.4 percent in 2015 compared with the previous year, also pushed by higher food prices. Pork prices jumped year on year by 9.5 percent and fresh vegetables went up 7.4 percent.

The year's rise was well below the official target of 3 percent, and lower than 2 percent growth in 2014.

Producer prices, measured as goods that leave the factory, declined by 5.9 percent in December from a year earlier, extending a long period of declines due to excess production capacity in many industries. Producer prices dropped 5.2 percent in 2015 from the previous year.