China's inflation steady at 2.5 percent in January

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BEIJING (AP) — China's consumer inflation held steady in January, easing pressure on communist leaders to control living costs as they launch ambitious economic reforms.

Data on Friday showed consumer prices rose 2.5 percent over a year earlier. The rise in politically sensitive food costs decelerated to 3.7 percent, down from December's 4.1 percent.

Lower inflation should ease pressure on communist leaders and allow them to focus on ambitious promises of sweeping reforms aimed at making China's economy more productive and keeping incomes rising.

Low inflation also leaves room for Beijing to stimulate the economy if growth drops too low. Last year's economic expansion tied 2012 for the slowest since 1999 at 7.7 percent and growth looks set to decline further this year.

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