China's annual gross domestic product growth eased ever so slightly in the first quarter of 2011 to 9.7 percent from 9.8 percent in the previous quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.

Consumer prices rose 5.4 percent in March from a year earlier, accelerating from February's 4.9 percent to a 32-month high, which was in line with earlier media reports.

China's GDP in the first three months was up 2.1 percent from the final quarter of 2010 on a seasonally adjusted basis, the statistics agency added.

Economists had forecast first-quarter growth of 9.5 percent and 5.2 percent inflation in March.

(Reporting by Langi Chiang and Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Ken Wills)