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China’s PPI hits 41-month high

AFP , BEIJING

China’s producer or wholesale prices last month hit a 41-month high, the government said yesterday, amid soaring global resource prices that officials fear threaten to slow the nation’s growth.

The producer price index (PPI) gained 8.1 percent last month from a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said, up 0.1 percentage point from March.

This is the highest level since November 2004, when the index also stood at 8.1 percent after reaching 8.4 percent in the previous month.

In the first four months of this year, the index increased by 7.2 percent compared with a 6.9 percent rise in the first quarter, the bureau said.

Raw materials prices went up by 10.4 percent last month, while prices of crude oil rose 37.9 percent, with the prices of gasoline, kerosene and diesel up 10.8 percent, 11.7 percent and 10.2 percent respectively, it said.

Prices for food and related products grew by 11.9 percent last month.

Soaring international commodity prices, especially that of crude, and the sluggish pork production in China were part of the reasons for the sustained expansion of producer prices, economists said.

“The consistent upturn in PPI inflation at the intermediate goods level since the fourth quarter in 2007 reflects continuous upward prices for a range of global commodities, including energy resources and raw materials,” Grace Ng (吳向紅), an analyst with JP Morgan in Hong Kong, said in a research note.

Crude oil struck a new record high of around US$124 a barrel during trading in Asian hours yesterday.

“Global inflation has intensified, creating major outside pressure for China,” Chinese Vice Premier Wang Qishan (王岐山) warned yesterday at a forum in Shanghai.

Producer prices are a critical measure of economic trends, because they tend to trickle into consumer prices, which more directly affect China’s 1.3 billion consumers.

“April’s figures suggested pressure for PPI to spread into consumer prices is increasing,” Li Ruoyu, a researcher at the State Information Center, a government think tank, said.

China’s consumer price index, or CPI, the main gauge of inflation, reached 8.0 percent in the first quarter of the year, mainly driven by surging food prices.

In February, it climbed to 8.7 percent, the highest in nearly 12 years, before easing slightly to 8.3 percent in March.

The world’s fourth-largest economy expanded by 10.6 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to a year ago.

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