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China's consumer inflation hits 32-month high, more rate hikes in sight

Source:   Time:

A citizen buys vegetables at a market in Yinchuan, capital of northwest China's Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, April 15, 2011. China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.4 percent in March from a year ago, down 0.2 percent from February, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Friday. (Xinhua/Wang Peng)


BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhua) -- China's consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, rose 5.4 percent in March from a year ago, a 32-month high, the nation's statistic agency said on Friday.
CPI stood at 5 percent for the first quarter, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Food prices surged 11 percent year on year.

Sun Chi, an analyst with the Nomura Securities, said inflation pressure would persist for a period of time, which indicated it was only early days in the monetary tightening circle.

"We expect the interest rate will be lifted by another 75 basis points this year. The bank's reserve requirement ratio will be increased by another 100 basis points," he said.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that keeping the price levels basically stable was the primary and most urgent task for the government's macro economic control this year.

"Judging from the inflation situation in the first quarter, we are still under great pressure of price hikes," Wen said, adding, "We should never lower our guard."

Wen expected inflation pressure to continue in the coming months due to soaring commodity prices around the world, higher food and housing prices, and higher labor costs in China.

The People's Bank of China, the central bank, announced the second interest rate hike this year on April 5. It was also the fourth increase since the start of 2010.

After the increases, the one-year deposit interest rate will climb to 3.25 percent while the one-year loan interest rate will reach 6.31 percent.

To mop up the excessive liquidity that helps fuel inflation, China's central bank has raised the reserve requirement ratio for commercial banks nine times since the beginning of last year.

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