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China's April inflation decreases to 1.8 percent, down from last March

BEIJING -- China's inflation eased in April, giving the government more leeway if needed to stimulate the slowing economy.

Consumer prices rose 1.8 percent over a year earlier, down from March's 2.4-percent increase, data showed Friday. The rise in politically sensitive food prices eased to 2.3 percent from the previous month's 4.1 percent.

Lower inflation gives Beijing more room for interest rate cuts or other moves to stimulate the economy after growth declined to 7.4 percent in the latest quarter.

In a sign of concern over possible job losses, Beijing launched a mini-stimulus in March based on higher spending on building railways and other public works but leaders have so far ruled out bigger efforts.

Producer prices, measured as goods leave the factory, declined by 2 percent from a year earlier, compared with March's 2.3 percent decline. Producer prices have fallen steadily for two years, reflecting weak demand and excess production capacity that has triggered price-cutting wars.

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