BEIJING — China’s consumer inflation rate took a sharp turn upwards in January, after several months of leveling off, government data released today showed.

The consumer price index was up by 4.5 percent last month versus a year ago, according the latest numbers from China’s National Bureau of Statistics.

January economic data in China can be tough to read because of the Lunar New Year holiday, which this year fell at the end of the month. It’s the largest shopping season of the year in China, but also a time when many retailers shut their doors for a week or more and prices typically increase somewhat.

In recent years, Chinese government officials have said they want to keep inflation at 3 percent or less, but attempts to curb consumer price rises haven’t been able to keep the rate that low. By comparison, the inflation rate in December was 4.1 percent, the lowest monthly rate in more than a year.

The apparent price increases didn’t appear to have a damper on Chinese New Year shopping. State-run media has reported in recent days that holiday shopping might have reached a new record this Year of the Dragon, but full retail numbers haven’t been released yet. Chinese shopping fever seems to be going strong globally, too.

Quoting a British research firm, the China Daily newspaper reported that Chinese shoppers spent more than $170 million on tax-free shopping around the world in December, a 65 percent increase over the previous year’s Christmas shopping season.

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