HONG KONG (AP) — China’s inflation rate eased to 2.3 percent in June as politically sensitive food prices softened.

Inflation remains below the 3.5 percent annual target set by the ruling Communist Party. That gives authorities room to cut interest rates or use finely tuned boosting measures if needed to shore up the slowing economy.

Government data Wednesday showed that food costs rose 3.7 percent last month after surging 4.1 percent the month before on a rebound in prices for pork, a staple meat in China.

Excluding food costs, June inflation was 1.7 percent.

Inflation fell from 2.5 percent in May, the highest rate since January, when it was at the same level.

Economists said they expected Chinese consumer prices to remain largely stable this year.