China’s inflation eased further in October as increases in food prices slowed, giving Beijing room to launch new stimulus measures if needed to speed a recovery from a painful economic slump.

Consumer prices rose 1.7 per cent, down from the previous month’s 1.9 per cent, the government reported on Friday. Food prices rose 1.8 per cent, down from September’s 2.5 per cent.

Lower inflation gives Beijing more room to cut interest rates or promote new stimulus measures to speed an economic recovery that appears to be taking shape. Forecasters say growth that has declined steadily over the past year should rebound this quarter or early in 2013 but any recovery is likely to be gradual and weak.

Chinese economic growth fell to a three and a half year low of 7.4 per cent in the quarter ending in September but investment, retail sales and other indicators improved from the previous quarter. The government said last month it saw “steady economic growth,” suggesting there was no need for further major stimulus.

Beijing launched a mini-stimulus, cutting interest rates twice in June and July and stepping up investment by state companies and spending on building airports and other public works. But authorities avoided bigger measures after their huge spending in response to the 2008 global crisis fuelled inflation and a wasteful building boom.