Data published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed that consumer price growth slowed in February, reaching its lowest level in a year, helped by a weaker rise in prices for food and non-food products.
According to the report, the CPI increased by 1% per annum after an increase of 2.1% per annum in January. Economists had expected prices to rise by 1.9% per annum. On a monthly basis, consumer prices fell by 0.5%, recording the first decline in three months, and partially offsetting January's 0.8% increase. Consensus estimates suggested a 0.2% price increase.
NBS said that combined to January, food prices, especially that of the staple meat pork and vegetables, played the main role in dragging down the overall price level. Non-food prices also inched down, with falling costs in travel, cinema tickets and services from haircuts to housekeeping.
Meanwhile, the core CPI - excluding food and energy prices - increased by 0.6% per annum, slowing down compared to January (+1% per annum).
The data also showed that the producer price index fell by 1.4% in February after a 0.8% decline in January. This was the fifth price decline in a row and the sharpest since November 2020. Economists had expected a 1.3% decline.
Combined with persistence of producer deflation, the data showed price pressure had become no obstacle to more government action to support economic recovery from COVID-19 disruption, analysts said.