China’s Oct consumer prices fall faster than expected

BEIJING (Reuters) -China’s consumer prices swung into decline and factory-gate deflation persisted in October, suggesting pressures on demand have picked up as the world’s second-largest economy struggles to emerge from a post-pandemic slump.

The consumer price index (CPI) dropped 0.2% in October from a year earlier, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on Thursday, a faster decline than the forecast for a 0.1% fall in a Reuters poll. CPI was unchanged in September.

The figure is dragged down by the faster slumping pork prices, down 30.1% after a 22% slide in September, driven by an oversupply of pigs and weak demand.

The data follows other economic indicators that suggest a meaningful economic recovery remains elusive and an uphill challenge for Chinese officials seeking to restore momentum.

CPI fell 0.1% month-on-month, compared with 0.2% gain in September.

Year-on-year core inflation, which excludes food and fuel prices, was up 0.6%, slowing from a 0.8% rise in September.

The producer price index (PPI) fell 2.6% year-on-year against a 2.5% drop in September, marking the 13th straight month of decline. Economists had predicted a 2.7% fall in October.

Beijing has been ramping up measures to support the economy, including 1 trillion yuan ($137.43 billion) in sovereign bond issuance and allowing local governments to frontload part of their 2024 bond quotas.

But headwinds remain with a property crisis, local debt risks and policy divergence with the West all complicating the recovery process.

Recent indicators have been mixed. China’s imports unexpectedly grew in October while exports contracted at a quicker pace. Meanwhile, the official purchasing managers’ index showed factory activity unexpectedly contracting and services activity slowing last month.

China also recorded its first-ever quarterly deficit in foreign direct investment (FDI), underlining capital outflow pressure following Western governments’ “de-risking” moves.

(Reporting Liangping Gao, Ella Cao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Sam Holmes)