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LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) -- China's consumer inflation rate held steady in January, printing slightly above forecasts, while wholesale prices fell at a faster rate than in January. The consumer price index rose 2.5% from a year earlier, or 1% on a monthly basis, as beef and vegetable prices all rose. The year-on-year result was identical to that in December, though the month-on-month gain was above a 0.3% rise in the previous month. The result also surpassed a median forecast 2.3% rise in separate surveys from The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. The producer price index, meanwhile, fell 1.6% from a year earlier -- the largest drop since August -- and was 0.1% below that of a month earlier. This compared to a 1.4% fall in December, when prices were flat on a monthly basis. The result matched the forecast from the Wall Street Journal poll of economists. Stocks opened higher as the data were released, with Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index up 1.1% compared to a 1% premarket gain ahead of the numbers, while the Shanghai Composite swung to a 0.4% gain from a 0.1% loss in the premarket. The Australian dollar rose briefly immediately after the data but quickly returned to its previous level around 90.10 U.S. cents.

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