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China Consumer Prices to Rise 4 Pct in Dec.
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BEIJING, Jan. 5 (Xinhua) -- China's inflation rate may rise 4 percent in December from a year earlier, driven by higher food prices in the upcoming festive season, experts said Thursday.

Food prices, especially of vegetables, have been rising recently due to seasonal factors, while prices of other products are making smaller gains, the China Securities Journal cited Chu Jianfang, chief economist with CITIC Securities, as saying.

Chu estimated that consumer prices in December will expand 4.1 percent year on year, down 0.1 percentage point from November.

China Merchants Securities (CMS) holds a similar view, forecasting the consumer price index (CPI) in December to climb 4 percent, and the producer price index (PPI) to gain 1.7 percent.

CMS analysts said food prices would keep rising until Spring Festival, which falls on January 23 in 2012.

The country's consumer prices for the full year of 2011 would thus climb 5.4 percent from a year earlier, which is well above the government's full-year target of 4 percent, the analysts said.

China's CPI growth retreated for four consecutive months, after reaching a three-year high of 6.5 percent in July, the official figures showed.

In the first 11 months of 2011, the country's consumer prices gained 5.5 percent year on year, the National Statistics Bureau statistics said.

The bureau will release next week new data on December and the full year of 2011.

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