January 9, 2014 1:00 pm JST

China's key inflation index rises 2.6% on year in 2013

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- China's consumer price index, a major gauge of inflation, rose 2.6% in 2013 from the previous year, well below the government's target of keeping price increases at 3.5% or lower for the whole year, official data showed Thursday.

     Relatively stable food prices, which account for nearly one-third of the weighting in the calculation of the index, was a key factor in keeping inflation in check.

     In December, the index rose 2.5% from the same month a year before, lower than the 3% on-year increase in November and the smallest advance since May, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

     Overall food prices rose 4.1% in December, down from November's 5.9% increase as fresh vegetable costs eased, according to the bureau.

     China's producer price index, which measures inflation at the wholesale level, fell 1.9% in 2013 and 1.4% in December, both on a year-on-year basis, adding to evidence that business activity in the world's second-biggest economy remains flat.

     Lower inflation could help the Chinese government under President Xi Jinping to focus on pushing the country to move toward a new model of sustainable and equitable development that is not heavily driven by infrastructure investment and exports.

     But ordinary citizens' frustration over fast-rising real estate and food prices is already considerable.