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China's inflation stays subdued in January

Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 | 8:35 PM ET
What does China's steady inflation mean for the PBOC?
Thursday, 13 Feb 2014 | 8:36 PM ET
Wang Tao, Head of China Economic Research at UBS, says January's inflation number is weak, which is good news for the central bank as they don't have to worry about tightening monetary policy.

China's consumer prices stayed subdued in January while producer prices continued declines, signaling that inflation will not concern policymakers for now.

Consumer prices rose 2.5 percent from the year-ago period, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, a tad higher than the 2.3 percent gain forecast from a Reuters poll, but keeping at a seven-month low.

Producer prices, meanwhile, fell for the 23rd straight month, down 1.6 percent from a year earlier, compared to expectations for a decline of 1.7 percent.

(Read more: China consumer inflation slows in December)

On a month-on-month basis, consumer prices rose 1 percent while producer prices fell 0.1 percent.

Keith Bedford | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Analysts say the data show the country's inflation remains benign, giving the central bank room to maneuver should the economy slow further.

(Read more: How big is China's economy, really?)

"For the government, I think the CPI is below the target and that is good news as they don't have to worry about tightening," said Wang Tao, head of China economic research at UBS.

According to Jian Chang, an analyst with Barclays, the central bank has been sounding less hawkish and emphasizing "stability" in its monetary policy last quarter, signs that policymakers will be keeping status quo for now.

"We think the policy bias has shifted to neutral, reflecting changes in economic conditions, as inflation has surprised to the downside and growth continues to moderate on the back of higher interest rates and slower money growth," Chang said.

(Read more: China posts blowout trade data, exports jump 10.6%)

The Australian dollar climbed back above 90 U.S.cents following the news while Asian stock markets were mixed with the Shanghai Composite up 0.2 percent and the Nikkei down 0.7 percent.

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