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China's key inflation gauge stabilized in October but remained at its slowest rate in five years, fresh data showed on Monday, adding to evidence the world's second-largest economy is cooling.
The consumer price index (CPI) rose 1.6 percent from the year-ago period, in line with a Reuters forecast and unchanged from September.
Prices stayed flat on a monthly basis, compared with a 0.1 percent gain forecast and after rising 0.5 percent in the previous month.
The wholesale sector, meanwhile, stayed entrenched in a deflationary spiral – the producer price index (PPI) fell 2.2 percent on year in October, worse than the 2 percent decline forecast and following the drop of 1.8 percent the month before. On-month, PPI fell 0.4 percent
"The [inflation] numbers have been heading downwards, starting pretty strongly into September and October is a continuation of that," said Steve Wang, Chief China Economist at Reorient Financial Markets.
"This is another signal that the over-capacity issue within China is coming back so there's really no time left. We believe the government should step on the rate cut and go forward with further structural reforms," he added.
The data follow trade numbers over the weekend that showed exports rising 11.6 percent in October from the year earlier, but down from the 15.3 percent jump in September, reinforcing signs of fragility in an economy where exports have been the lone bright spot.
President Xi Jinping told global business leaders on Sunday that the risks faced by China's economy are "not that scary" and the government is confident it can head off the dangers.
China's economy grew at its slowest pace in more than five years in the third quarter, logging a 7.3 percent expansion.
"It seems that the economy is still growing quite below its potential. That is clearly the result of tightening, especially related to the property market but also related to lending and monetary policies in general," said Alaistair Chan, economist at Moody's Analytics.
He notes that the slowdown will continue well into 2015, with the housing market in particular weighing on investments and industrial sectors.