China producer price inflation steadies in June

BEIJING • China’s producer price gains held up, signalling that demand in the world’s second-largest economy is maintaining pace for now, even in the face of regulatory curbs.

The Producer Price Index (PPI) rose 5.5% in June from a year earlier, in line with the estimate in a Bloomberg survey as well as the reading in May. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased 1.5%, less than the forecast of 1.6%, the Statistics Bureau said yesterday.

As inflation steadies on weaker commodity prices, regulators’ moves to curb excessive borrowing may erode momentum later this year. Signs of faltering demand for raw materials could become more tangible, as strictures on real estate construction slow output. For global central bankers hoping for an inflation bump that will help them meet targets, moderating price gains in China, the world’s largest trading nation, aren’t good news.

The data shows “yet another sign that inflation remains dormant in the world economy, despite pretty decent growth”, according to Rob Subbaraman, chief economist for Asia exJapan at Nomura Holdings Inc in Singapore.

“Producer price inflation has already declined from a rate of 7.8% year-onyear (YoY) in February to 5.5% YoY by June as global raw materials prices have moderated,” said Rajiv Biswas, Asia-Pacific chief economist at IHS Markit in Singapore. “A further slowdown in producer price inflation is likely in coming months.”

“It’s all about PPI and it’s all about how long until PPI is negative YoY again,” said Michael Every, head of financial markets research at Rabobank Group in Hong Kong. “This month is surely just a holding action in that regard.”

“Low inflation allows the central bank to take inflation away from its target list,” said Raymond Yeung, Greater China chief economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd in Hong Kong. “It is obvious that 2017 will be another year the actual CPI undershooting the official target of 3%.”

Producer prices in mining moderated to 18.3% from 22.7% in May. Manufacturing price gains picked up to 5.4% from 4.6% in May. — Bloomberg