China's consumer inflation holds steady at 2.5%

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Image caption Food prices in China rose over the New Year period

China's inflation rate remained subdued in January, despite rising food prices during the New Year celebrations.

Consumer prices held steady at 2.5% from a year earlier, which was slightly higher than many economists expected.

The National Bureau of Statistics said there was a 3.7% rise in food prices during the month, which included both the Western and Chinese New Years.

Meanwhile, factory gate prices fell 1.6%, marking the 23rd consecutive monthly decline.

"Inflation is not going to be an issue in China this year," said ING economist Tim Condon.

The latest price figures leave room for the Chinese government to stimulate the economy if growth drops too low.

Beijing has been looking to wean the world's second-largest economy off its dependence on exports and become more consumer-oriented.

By keeping price pressures low, the government is able to focus on promised reforms to make the economy more productive and keeping incomes rising.

China's inflation has slowed markedly since 2011, when the annual consumer price index spiked to 5.4%.

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