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Consumer Inflation Hits Over Eight-Year High Amid Coronavirus Outbreak
Published on: 2020-02-13
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Rising food prices helped to fuel a 5.4% year-on-year jump in consumer prices in January, 0.9 percentage points higher than the previous month and the highest since October 2011, as China’s economy began to feel the pain of the novel coronavirus outbreak, official data showed on Monday.

The consumer price index (CPI) growth beat the median estimate of a 4.9% rise.

011Pork prices remained the major driver of inflation as they rose 116% year-on-year last month, contributing nearly 2.7 percentage points to the CPI increase. Fresh vegetable prices rose by 17.1%, contributing around 0.5 percentage points of the increase. The two items together contributed over 3.2 percentage points.

The price hikes were mainly caused by the Lunar New Year holidays and coronavirus outbreak, according to a statement by China’s National Bureau of Statistics. A favorable base effect was also a factor, the statement said, contributing 4 percentage points of the CPI increase.

In January, the CPI rose 1.4% compared with the previous month, the first month-on-month acceleration after two months of deceleration.

012Supply disruptions and hoarding due to the coronavirus outbreak may have helped to keep food prices elevated during the week after the Lunar New Year, a period in which they would normally drop back, economists from research firm Capital Economics Ltd. said in a note.

Analysts from China Merchants Securities Co. Ltd. expected that CPI growth could slow over the next few months as base effects diminish and the pork supply rebounds. China’s stock of brood sows rose 2.2% month-on-month in December, the third rise in a row, according to data from the agriculture ministry. The analysts estimated that CPI growth would dip below 4% after the first quarter of the year and under 3% after the second quarter.

Producer prices ended a deflationary period last month, with the producer price index, which gauges changes in the prices of goods circulated among manufacturers and mining companies, up 0.1% year-on-year in January, the first rise since May 2019. Capital Economics economists said it still might be too early to see the impact of the hit to demand on prices as factories were closed during the last week of January. Some factories have not resumed production yet as the epidemic has forced many workers to stay home.

Many economists said that the coronavirus outbreak would hurt China’s economy in the first quarter of this year, with the damage to growth most concentrated in consumption. Analysts with consultancy CEBM Group Ltd. estimated that GDP growth could be 1 to 1.5 percentage points lower than earlier predictions for the first quarter. For the entire year, they forecast GDP growth to be 0.3 to 0.5 percentage points lower than they originally forecast. The virus’s impact on discretionary spending, which includes things like leisure and entertainment, will not be easy to recover from, though its impact on nondiscretionary spending will rebound shortly after the epidemic subsides.

Economists from Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC and Beijing Gao Hua Securities Co. Ltd. revised down their 2020 household consumption growth forecast for China from 7.4% to 6% as many public facilities are shuttered and stores are closed across the country.




1月CPI环比1.4%,同比增长5.4%,核心CPI同比增长1.5%,远超出市场预期,主要是受到春节效应+基数效应+新冠肺炎疫情的三重影响,今年春节提前,与去年错月,因此今年1月与去年同期的对比基数较低,拉高了CPI值。此外,猪肉价格仍然是较大影响,食品价格环比增长中,鲜菜和猪肉价格分别上涨15.3%和 8.5%,鲜果和水产品价格分别上涨5.5%和4.5%,春节是一方面,另一方面是1月中下旬爆发的新冠疫情导致部分地区食品价格上涨,居民囤积行为严重又拉高食品价格;食品外,1月上涨明显的类别还包括以美发、家政服务等为代表的服务行业,主要是受到春节影响,一方面部分务工人员返乡,供应下降,另一方面春节导致该类需求上涨,拉高价格水平。


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