LOS ANGELES – China's consumer-price inflation slowed in December, while deflation for wholesale prices held steady, according to government data out Thursday. The consumer price index rose 2.5% from a year earlier, slowing from a 3% gain in November, while prices were 0.3% higher versus the previous month, swinging from a 0.1% drop. The result matched a consensus forecast from a Dow Jones Newswires survey of economists and was slightly below a projected 2.7% increase from a Reuters poll. A 4.1% rise in food prices helped drive the gain. The producer price index, meanwhile, fell 1.4% on an annual basis, unchanged from November's result and just above a 1.3% result tipped in the Dow Jones Newswires poll. Markets offered a mildly positive reaction to the numbers, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index paring its 0.3% premarket loss to a 0.1% deficit after the data release. The Shanghai Composite erased a premarket 0.1% drop to trade flat. The price statistics were released as the markets opened. The Australian dollar -- often sensitive to economic news from China, Australia's key export market -- eased to 88.95 U.S. cents from 89.03 U.S. cents.
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