China’s factory prices rise at fastest pace since August 2008

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BEIJING — China’s factory gate inflation hit a 13-year high in August, as commodity prices remained elevated despite Beijing’s attempts to cool them.

The producer price index (PPI) rose 9.5% from a year earlier in August, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Thursday, faster than the 9.0% increase tipped in a Reuters poll and the 9.0% reported in July.

That was the fastest pace since August 2008.

China’s economy has recovered strongly from last year’s coronavirus slump but has been losing steam recently due to domestic COVID-19 outbreaks, high raw material prices, tighter property curbs and a campaign to reduce carbon emissions.

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Commodity prices have been on a tear in recent months, hurting the bottom lines of many mid- and downstream factories. China’s coal prices soared to a record high on Tuesday over supply concerns as major coal regions started fresh rounds of safety checks.

A separate NBS statement showed that the consumer price index (CPI) in August rose 0.8% from a year earlier, compared with a 1.0% gain in a Reuters poll and below the government target of around 3% this year.

China tightened social restrictions to curb the COVID-19 Delta variant including travel limits, which have hampered services sector demand, although Beijing has largely contained the latest coronavirus outbreaks.

Service-sector activity plunged in August to the lowest level since the pandemic’s first wave in April 2020, a survey showed, as COVID-19 restrictions threatened to derail the recovery.

Analysts expect the People’s Bank of China to deliver a further cut to the amount of cash banks must hold as reserves later this year to lift growth, on top of July’s cut which released around 1 trillion yuan ($6.47 trillion) in long-term liquidity into the economy.

The core consumer price index, which strips out volatile food and energy prices, stood at 1.2% on year, versus a 1.3% rise in July. (Reporting by Gabriel Crossley and Liangping Gao; Editing by Sam Holmes)