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China's rate of inflation slows to 2.3% in June: government data

BEIJING -- Chinese inflation slowed to 2.3 percent in June from a four-month high of 2.5 percent in May, official data showed Wednesday, giving authorities further room to stimulate growth in the world's second-largest economy.

The country's consumer price index — a main gauge of inflation — also rose 2.3 percent in the first six months of the year from the same period in 2013, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a statement.

The result compared with the median forecast of a 2.4-percent gain in a survey of 21 economists by The Wall Street Journal, but is well below the 3.5-percent annual target set by Beijing in March.

It comes as concerns earlier this year over economic prospects for China — a key driver of world growth — have eased owing to a pick-up in key indicators in the second quarter and some limited steps by authorities to boost the economy.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.4 percent in January-March, weaker than the 7.7 percent recorded in the final three months of last year and the worst result since a 7.4-percent expansion in the third quarter of 2012.

But growth in industrial output and retail sales accelerated in May, with consumption increasing at its fastest pace since December, official data showed last month, in signs of renewed strength.

China announces second-quarter GDP results on July 16.

Authorities have since April introduced measures to boost growth, including tax breaks for small enterprises, targeted infrastructure outlays and incentives to encourage lending in rural areas and to small companies.

Economists have dubbed the steps a “mini-stimulus,” in contrast to the massive pump-priming that took place in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 global financial crisis, something leaders say is not on the cards now.

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