Chinese trade figures for June provided fresh evidence that the world’s second-largest economy was slowing even as inflation hit a three-year high, according to data released over the weekend.
The contradictory readings will further complicate Beijing’s attempts to maintain rapid economic growth while tackling price increases that have stoked discontent in the country.
China’s imports increased 19.3 per cent in June from the same month a year earlier, a sharp deceleration from May’s 28.4 per cent annual increase and well below what most economists were expecting.
“Weaker imports adds to the lengthening list of variables pointing toward a slowing domestic economy,” said Chi Sun, an analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong.
In a sign that industrial activity in the country was moderating, imports of key commodities like crude oil, aluminium and iron ore all fell in June from a month earlier. Crude oil imports fell to the lowest level in eight months and were down 11.5 per cent from the same month a year earlier and, while copper imports rebounded in June, they were significantly down on 12 months ago.
The government has been trying to apply the brakes gently on China’s rapidly growing economy because of fears that price rises could spiral out of control and trigger serious social unrest.
Beijing released inflation figures for June on Saturday, almost a week earlier than scheduled, that showed consumer prices rose 6.4 per cent from the same month a year earlier, the fastest increase since June 2008.
Food prices were the main driver of inflation, rising 14.4 per cent from a year earlier in June, propelled by a 57.1 per cent increase in the price of pork, the most widely used meat in China.
Overall prices rose 5.5 per cent from a year earlier in May while food costs rose 11.7 per cent that month.
In its battle to bring down inflation, China’s central bank has raised benchmark interest rates five times in the last eight months, most recently last Thursday, and increased the proportion of deposits that banks must hold in reserve six times since the start of 2011.
Some analysts have raised concerns that Beijing could trigger a “hard landing” of its economy by tightening monetary conditions too much and acting too forcefully in its fight against inflation.
But in an article in the Financial Times last month, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao expressed “emphatic” confidence that the government would be able to maintain rapid growth while reining in rapid price increases.
Most economists expect inflation to peak this month and begin to ease in the second half of the year as Beijing’s tightening policies take effect.
2011-07-11 10:53 编辑：典典
The US Congress moved closer to punishing China for allegedly manipulating its currency, as a key committee of the House of Representatives voted to advance legislation that could