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Slower CPI growth in Feb signals limited long-term inflation pressure

2020-3-11 12:32

A consumer buys fruit at a supermarket in Fuyang, East China's Anhui province, on Tuesday. [Photo by Lu Qijian/For China Daily]

China's consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose at a slower pace in February as the government rolled out measures to facilitate production resumption and ensure supplies to stabilize prices amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Economists said that the country's whole-year inflation pressure is limited as the growth in food prices is likely to taper off and there is hardly any momentum for industrial product prices to grow while the epidemic has been gradually contained in China.

The country's CPI rose 5.2 percent year-on-year in February, edging down from 5.4 percent in the previous month, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Tuesday.

Zhao Maohong, an NBS official, said that the novel coronavirus outbreak has had a complicated impact on prices and the country has been able to maintain generally stable prices as the government has been actively facilitating production resumption and ensure supplies to stabilize prices.

Food prices were the main contributor to CPI growth, rising 21.9 percent year-on-year in February. Pork prices soared 135.2 percent year-on-year. The surge in food prices was mainly due to the supply disruption and higher distribution and transportation cost as a result of the preventive measures to contain the epidemic, according to the NBS.

"February CPI is in line with our expectations. While weaker demand has depressed nonfood prices, the supply disruption and transportation factors have contributed to food price rises. The overall CPI remained at a high level despite the slower growth pace," said Steven Zhang, chief economist at Morgan Stanley Huaxin Securities Co, in a research note.

"Given the declining base effect and the depressed demand due to the epidemic, CPI growth is likely to gradually decelerate for the rest of the year," he said.

Pan Xiangdong, chief economist at the New Times Securities, said that as business activities are gradually recovering, the supply gap will be narrowed and prices will return to normalcy.

Xu Hongcai, deputy director of the economic policy committee of the China Association of Policy Sciences, said that China's policy priority will continue to be stabilizing growth and employment, and tightened monetary policy is unlikely despite rising CPI pressure.

In fact, China's core inflation, which excludes food and energy prices, saw substantial decline in February on a monthly basis, shifting from a 0.5-percent rise to a 0.1-percent decline, according to the NBS. On a yearly basis, core inflation rose 1 percent, edging down from 1.5 percent in the previous month. This may indicate that demand remains weak amid the epidemic outbreak and the rising economic downward pressure, economists said.

Meanwhile, China's producer price index declined 0.4 percent year-on-year in February, affected by the sharp drop in the prices of crude oil and natural gas in the international markets. Economists forecast that China's PPI in March may continue to decline.

Zhang said that the drop in oil prices could exacerbate consumer concern about an economic recession, which could lead to more savings instead of consumption, raising the risks of deflation in prices of industrial products.

周二,一名消费者在中国东部安徽省阜阳市的一家超市购买水果。[中国日报陆其建摄]


在新型冠状病毒爆发之际,中国2月份消费者价格指数(cpi)增速放缓,政府推出了一系列措施,以促进恢复生产,确保供应稳定物价。cpi是衡量通胀的主要指标。


经济学家们表示,中国全年的通胀压力是有限的,因为食品价格的增长可能会逐渐放缓,而工业产品价格几乎没有增长的势头,而这种流行病在中国已逐渐得到控制。


国家统计局周二表示,2月份中国消费者价格指数(CPI)同比上涨5.2%,较上月的5.4%小幅回落。


国家统计局官员赵茂红表示,新型冠状病毒的爆发对价格产生了复杂的影响,由于政府一直在积极促进恢复生产,确保供应稳定价格,国家能够保持价格的总体稳定。


食品价格是CPI增长的主要因素,2月份同比上涨21.9%。猪肉价格同比上涨135.2%。国家统计局表示,食品价格飙升的主要原因是供应中断,以及为控制疫情而采取的预防措施导致配送和运输成本上升。


“2月份CPI与我们的预期相符。尽管需求疲软压低了非食品价格,但供应中断和运输方面的因素导致了食品价格上涨。尽管增速放缓,但整体CPI仍处于高位,”摩根士丹利华信证券首席经济学家张智文在一份研究报告中表示。


他说:“考虑到基数下降的影响和流行病导致的需求低迷,CPI增长可能会在今年剩下的时间里逐渐减速。”


新时代证券首席经济学家潘向东表示,随着商业活动逐渐复苏,供应缺口将会缩小,价格将回归正常。


中国政策科学学会经济政策委员会副主任徐洪才表示,中国的政策重点将继续是稳定增长和就业,尽管CPI压力不断上升,但收紧货币政策的可能性不大。


事实上,根据国家统计局的数据,中国的核心通胀率(不包括食品和能源价格)在2月份环比大幅下降,从上涨0.5%降至下跌0.1%。核心通胀率较上年同期上升1%,略低于上月的1.5%。经济学家表示,这可能表明,在疫情爆发和经济下行压力不断加大的情况下,需求仍然疲弱。


与此同时,受国际市场原油和天然气价格大幅下跌的影响,中国2月份生产者价格指数(ppi)同比下降0.4%。经济学家预测,中国3月份的PPI可能会继续下降。


张表示,油价下跌可能加剧消费者对经济衰退的担忧,这可能导致更多的储蓄,而不是消费,从而增加工业品价格出现通缩的风险。

原作者: Li Xiang 来自: china daily