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China's key inflation gauge slowed further in November, data showed on Wednesday, adding to concerns of cooling activity in the world's second-largest economy.
The consumer price index rose 1.4 percent from the year-ago period - the lowest reading since November, 2009 - below a Reuters forecast for a 1.6 percent increase and slower than October's 1.6 percent rise.
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Month-on-month, prices fell 0.2 percent, below expectations for a flat reading and compared with a flat reading in October.
"The numbers are along the lines that everybody expected - a trajectory of a slowdown," Peter Alexander, managing director at Z-Ben Advisors, told CNBC.
"A few years ago everyone was talking about China having to rebalance its economy and this is the process that it's going through. You will go to slower growth, but, hopefully, higher quality growth," he said. "So what you're seeing right now is not disturbing."
Capital Economics was also not overly concerned by the data.
"A fall in inflation to a five-year low last month may add to deflation fears but we think such concerns are overplayed. Easing inflation is being driven by falls in global commodity prices which should, on balance, benefit most firms and households," Capital Economics wrote in a note.
"Looking forward, we expect price pressures to moderate further going into next year," it said.
The wholesale sector, meanwhile, remained entrenched in a deflationary spiral. The producer price index (PPI) fell for the 33rd straight months, down 2.7 percent on year in November, worse than the 2.4 percent decline forecast and following a 2.2 percent drop in October.
"The wider fall in industrial commodity prices is likely to push year-on-year growth in producer prices even deeper into negative territory in the months ahead. But provided that profit margins for industry as a whole remain healthy, as they have over the past couple of years, then falling PPI shouldn't be seen as a sign of distress in the industrial sector. next year," Capital Economics said.
The data follow trade numbers earlier in the week that showed exports rising 4.7 percent in November from the year earlier, down from the 11.6 percent jump in October, reinforcing signs of fragility in an economy where exports have been the lone bright spot.
"There was a time when such readings would see markets rally in anticipation of stimulus. However, it seems there is a clear shift in how China operates now, with current benign growth becoming the new normal. Despite this fact, cooling inflation certainly gives the People's Bank of China (PBoC) some flexibility," Stan Shamu, market strategist at IG said in a note before the data was released, referring to the Shanghai Composite's 5.3 percent tumble on Tuesday.
The Shanghai Composite was 0.3 percent lower in early trading after the data were released on Wednesday and was in positive territory, up 0.4 percent, by midday.