China's producer price index in January rose 0.3% from a year earlier, according to data Wednesday from the National Bureau of Statistics.

It was the first positive PPI for China since the coronavirus epidemic and presents a significant boost from December when the index - which measures the price of goods from factories to wholesalers - was minus 0.4% year on year.

Meanwhile, the purchasing manufacturers index fell, according to the government, as higher supply and raw material prices forced factories to charge more to preserve profit margins.

China's consumer price index fell to minus 0.3% in January compared with a year earlier and from 0.2% in December owing to the later date of a holiday.

"Headline consumer price inflation returned to negative territory last month, but this was largely due to a shift in the timing of the Lunar New Year...We think price pressures are likely to pick up further in the coming quarters," Capital Economics analysts Mark Williams and Sheana Yue said.

They expect consumer price inflation to finish the second quarter at around 2% - which will likely reinforce the central bank's recent focus on controlling credit risks.

The price of food year on year grew 1.6% last month - building on a 1.2% increase in December compared with the year before.

Pork prices rose by 5.6% month on month in January, according to NBS statistician Dong Lijian, who attributed the increase to "factors such as increased consumer demand before the holiday and rising feed costs."

Last year, the price of the staple meat fell dramatically, culminating in a 12.5% month-on-month drop in November. While prices rose in January, they are still 3.9% lower compared with this time last year when African Swine Fever reduced China's supply of pigs.