China’s consumer prices soar to 2.7-pct in February

BEIJING, March 11, 2010 (AFP) – Chinese consumer prices rose for the fourth straight month in February while new lending slowed sharply, data showed Thursday, adding pressure on Beijing to fulfill its vow to control inflation. Analysts said the jump in prices would not trigger a knee-jerk response from policymakers in the world’s third-largest economy but the figures raised the prospect of more drastic tightening measures later in the year.

The consumer price index, the main gauge of inflation, rose 2.7 percent in February compared with the same month a year earlier, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

The figure was higher than the market’s forecast for a 2.4 percent rise.

Officials insisted the increase was manageable and in line with the three percent inflation target put forward by Premier Wen Jiabao last week in his speech to open China’s annual parliamentary session.

“We believe this year’s price rises will be mild and controllable so we have to stabilise inflationary expectations,” NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun told a news conference.

“Judging from the current situation, investment, consumption and foreign trade are better coordinated, so we don’t see any signs of economic overheating.”