China’s Inflation Slows

China’s inflation cooled to the weakest pace in almost two years, giving the central bank room to cut interest-rates and shore up growth in the world’s fourth-largest economy.

Consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in November from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today, after gaining 4 percent in October. That was less than the 3.3 percent median estimate of 18 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

China may add to its most aggressive interest-rate reductions in 11 years after food and commodity prices eased. Policy makers, who 10 months ago were battling inflation at a 12-year high, are trying to prevent a spiral of falling prices, profits and consumption as the global recession pushes the economy into a slump.

China’s exports fell for the first time in seven years in November, imports plunged and producer prices rose by the least in two years, the government said yesterday.

Food prices climbed 5.9 percent last month from a year earlier, the smallest gain in almost two years. Non-food prices increased 0.6 percent, the least in almost four years.

Telecommunications prices tumbled 19 percent, pork fell 9.3 percent and garments declined 2 percent.

Recessions in the U.S., Europe and Japan are sapping demand for exports as weakness in the property market undermines investment, construction and consumption.

The yuan’s biggest decline against the dollar in three years on Dec. 1 prompted speculation that the government may use currency depreciation to aid struggling exporters of toys, textiles and furniture.

China’s economy grew 9 percent in the third quarter, which was the least in five years. The World Bank is forecasting a 7.5 percent expansion next year, which would be the slowest pace since 1990.

China’s Inflation Slows,
12/11/2008 7:27:28 AM