BEIJING (AP) — Chinese inflation eased in September, giving Beijing more room to stimulate slowing economic growth if needed.

Consumer prices rose 1.6 percent over a year earlier, driven by a 2.7 percent rise in food costs, data showed Wednesday. That was down of from August's 2 percent increase.

The decline leaves room for interest rate cuts or other stimulus to prop up cooling economic growth and prevent politically dangerous job losses with less risk of igniting price rises. Beijing has cut interest rates five times since November.

Growth in the quarter ending in June held steady at 7 percent. But that was the lowest level since the 2008 financial crisis and analysts said a stock market boom pushed up activity in financial industries, masking declines in other industries.