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Surging pork prices drive China inflation to highest since 2012

China's consumer prices rose faster than expected in November with annual headline inflation reaching its highest level since early 2012 amid a continued rise in pork prices, data from the National Bureau of Statistics showed.

Annual inflation accelerated to 4.5% in November from 3.8% in October. This was the highest level since January 2012, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence data.

The consensus estimate of economists polled by Econoday was for an annual print of 4.3%.

The increase was driven by food prices, which rose 19.1% year over year on the back of a 110.2% surge in pork as the country continues to grapple with the African swine fever that has killed millions of pigs. Non-food prices rose 1.0%.

Core inflation, which excludes energy and food prices, decelerated to 1.4% from 1.5% a month ago.

On a monthly basis, consumer prices were up 0.4% in November, following a 0.9% increase in the prior month. Food inflation rose to 1.8% amid a tight pig supply, though the pace of increase in pork prices eased to 3.8% from 20.1%.

This moderation could be a sign that pork price inflation may be close to a peak, wrote Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist at Capital Economics, noting that China's pig herd expanded for the first time in a year last month.

Meanwhile, China's producer price index fell 1.4% year over year in November, following a 1.6% contraction in the prior month. The Econoday consensus was for a 1.7% annual decline.

On a monthly basis, producer prices dipped 0.1%, reversing a 0.1% uptick in October.

"Easing food inflation and muted demand-side price pressures should strengthen the case for further monetary easing," Evans-Pritchard added.