BEIJING--China's consumer inflation slowed in December, losing speed for the first time in four months, but producer inflation quickened at a pace much faster than economists expected, official data showed Tuesday.

China's consumer price index increased 2.1% in December from a year earlier, rising at slower pace than a 2.3% year-over-year gain in November, the National Bureau of Statistics said, adding that a higher base for comparison from the year-earlier period was the main factor weighing on the headline figure.

The key inflation reading matched a median 2.1% gain expected by 11 economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.

The result left inflation below Beijing's targeted maximum of 3% for 2016,offering leeway for policy makers to loosen monetary policy, though they have said they intend to keep monetary policy neutral this year.

On a month-over-month basis, the CPI rose 0.2% in December from a month earlier. In November, it edged up 0.1% from the month before.

China's producer prices rose for the fourth consecutive month in December from a year earlier. The producer price index gained 5.5% compared with a 3.3% year-over-year increase in November.

The reading for factory gate prices came in faster than economists' median forecast for a 4.8% increase.

The PPI increased 1.6% in December from a month earlier. In November, it rose 1.5% from the month before.

For 2016, the CPI rose 2.0% from a year earlier, while the PPI fell 1.4%.

--Liyan Qi

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

January 09, 2017 21:17 ET (02:17 GMT)

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