China inflation steady at 1.6 pct in October

China’s annual consumer inflation remained at a near five-year low in October at 1.6 percent, further evidence that the world’s second-largest economy is cooling and giving room to policymakers to stimulate growth if needed.

On a monthly basis, consumer inflation was flat in October, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.

The producer price index fell 2.2 percent from a year ago, its 32nd consecutive decline, as sluggish demand curbed the pricing power of companies.

Yu Qiumei, a senior statistician at the National Bureau of Statistics, said worsening factory price deflation in October was mainly caused by a drop in oil prices and overcapacity problems. China has cut retail prices of gasoline and diesel seven times in a row since late July as international oil prices fell.

The inflation index grew 2.1 percent year on year in the first 10 months, well below the 3.5-percent full-year target set by the government.