China's consumer inflation came in a shade below expectations, showing domestic demand remains soft and raising speculation of government measures to support the economy.
China's consumer prices rose 2.4 percent in March from the year-ago period, official data showed on Friday, just shy of a Reuters poll for a 2.5 percent increase.
Month on month, prices dipped 0.5 percent, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics, in line with expectations. Prices rose 0.5 percent in February from January.
Analysts say the figures are a poor showing considering Beijing's push to bolster domestic consumption and move away from investment-led growth
"There's a [government consumer] inflation target out for the year at 3.5 percent. So March's number is terribly below that target," said Sam Le Cornu at Macquarie Funds.
Meanwhile, producer prices continued to decline for a 25th straight month, falling 2.3 percent on year, worse than a Reuters forecast for a 2 percent dip.
Falling factory gate prices typically reflect lower raw material prices but could also be a gauge of demand and excess capacity.