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--Japan Core CPI Up 0.8% y/y In January Vs. +0.7% in December
TOKYO (MNI) - Japan's nationwide core consumer price index rose 0.8% on
year in January, accelerating from 0.7% in December, but Bank of Japan officials
are still cautious over the inflation outlook.
Core CPI had been expected to edge higher in January, as Tokyo core CPI --
a leading indicator for the nationwide number -- had already shown an
acceleration from the previous month. However, inflation remains stubbornly slow
responding to a sustainable economic expansion and tight labor market
conditions, with firms still cautious over raising retail prices.
Looking ahead, downward pressure on consumer prices from the past drop in
crude oil prices is expected to strengthen in the coming months. The positive
contribution from energy fell to +0.37 percentage point in January, down from
+0.45 percentage point in December.
BOJ economists remain focused on how weaker prices lower the expected
inflation rate, which have been more or less unchanged in recent months.
Those officials are still cautious on the outlook for prices as upward
momentum has yet to prove sufficiently sticky, although some food and drink
firms plan retail prices increases in or after April, the beginning of the new
High raw materials and transportation costs continue to pressure firms to
raise prices, with some finding difficulties in absorbing higher costs and BOJ
staff now await corporate annual price revisions, which are usually implemented
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