Business

Asian markets mixed after soaring pork prices push China's inflation rate to eight-year high

Posted December 9, 2019 10:25 p.m. EST

— Hong Kong and Chinese stocks slipped on Tuesday after official statistics indicated China's consumer inflation rose by the quickest pace in nearly eight years.

China's Shanghai Composite dropped 0.4%. Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index dipped 0.1%.

Japan's Nikkei 225 opened lower, but then reversed losses and traded flat. South Korea's Kospi started out in negative territory but was up about 0.2% by midday.

China's consumer price index surged 4.5% in November, the quickest growth rate since January 2012 and faster than market expectations, according to government statistics released on Tuesday morning. It also accelerated from a 3.8% jump in October.

The pickup in inflation was mainly because of a surge in food prices, especially pork. Pork prices soared 110% from a year earlier, as the African swine fever has ravaged the nation's pig herds.

It might be bad news for the economy, as the higher inflation could leave the central bank less room to ease monetary policy, according to analysts.

Because of the rising inflation, markets may lower expectations for a key lending rate cut by the People's Bank of China, said Stephen Innes, chief Asia market strategist for AxiTrader. Innes was referring to the medium-term lending facility rate, a benchmark against which the Chinese central bank lends to commercial banks.

Investors are also looking ahead to other key economic events later this week, including a policy meeting by the Federal Reserve that starts on Tuesday and the interest rate decision by the new European Central Bank on Thursday.

Meanwhile, traders are awaiting clues about the status of US-China trade talks before the next wave of US tariffs on Chinese goods that is due to go into effect on Sunday.

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