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BEIJING - China's Producer Price Index (PPI), a main gauge of inflation at wholesale level, fell 0.3 percent in March from a year earlier, according to figures released Monday by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
It is the first time the PPI has seen negative year-on-year growth since December 2009.
But the PPI grew 0.3 percent month-on-month in March, marking four consecutive months of gain, the NBS said in a statement on its website.
The year-on-year drop was caused by a larger comparison base last year, said Tang Yunfei, chief macroeconomic analyst at Founder Securities.
As the Commodity Research Bureau index, which tracks prices of major global commodities, recovered for three months in a row, the effects of the price hikes have gradually shown in the domestic market, leading to month-on-month increases, he explained.
Despite price fluctuations, analysts expect the global commodity market to continue cooling and PPI growth to further ease in the second quarter, but warned of possible oil price gains caused by Iran's supply cut.
Wang Yuwen, a researcher at the finance research center of the Bank of Communications, said surging oil prices may become a major source of inflationary pressure in the future.
In March, producer purchase prices grew 0.1 percent year-on-year and 0.1 percent month-on-month, the NBS said.
In the first quarter of this year, the PPI climbed 0.1 percent year-on-year, while producer purchase prices gained 1 percent, it said.
The NBS also announced that the consumer price index, a main gauge of inflation, rose 3.6 percent from a year earlier in March, up from 3.2 percent in February.