BEIJING - China's inflation accelerated to 2.4 per cent in April, official data showed Thursday, rising above market expectations, but analysts said counter-measures were unlikely as economic momentum remained weak.
The consumer price index (CPI) - a main gauge of inflation - rose 2.4 per cent year-on-year last month, picking up from 2.1 per cent in March, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said in a statement.
Month on month, CPI increased by 0.2 per cent in April, reversing a decrease of 0.9 per cent in March, it said.
The year-on-year figure was higher than the median forecast for a gain of 2.2 per cent in a poll of 13 economists by Dow Jones Newswires.
Authorities said higher vegetable prices in the world's second-biggest economy were responsible for the rise.
"The rather large increase in vegetable prices was the main driver of the rise in CPI," said Yu Qiumei, a senior analyst at the NBS, in a statement, adding that unusually cold temperatures and low rainfall across the country were to blame.
China has set its inflation target for this year at 3.5 per cent, higher than the actual inflation rate for 2012, which stood at 2.6 per cent. Economists said inflation was expected to remain mild in the coming months, partly due to the sluggish growth momentum.
"Overall inflationary pressures this year should remain abated given that the economy is unlikely to see a strong pick-up in the next few quarters," said ANZ Bank analysts Liu Ligang and Zhou Hao in a research note.
China grew at its slowest pace in 13 years in 2012, with gross domestic product expanding 7.8 per cent in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.
There was a rebound to 7.9 per cent in the final quarter of 2012, raising hopes of recovery, but in the first three months of this year growth slowed to 7.7 per cent.
Authorities were likely to keep policy relatively loose to boost economic growth, which is all important for job creation and social stability, analysts said.
"Chinese policymakers have the room to maintain relatively accommodative fiscal and monetary policies on weak growth and low inflation," said Lu Ting and Zhi Xiaojia, economists with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, in a report.
But major stimulus measures were rather unlikely unless economic growth slid much further, they added.
In the first four months of the year, CPI increased by 2.4 per cent year-on-year, the NBS said, unchanged from the reading for the first quarter.