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MNI (London)
--Tokyo Core CPI Decelerates To 0.9% In December
     TOKYO (MNI) - The pace of the annual inflation rate in Tokyo, a leading
indicator of the national average, stood at 0.9% on year in December, slowing
from 1.0% in November, reconfirming than any pick-up in inflation remains slow,
compared with the overall economic recovery.
     The data showed that the rise in the inflation rate is still restricted by
the structural factors mentioned by the BOJ in July, and the central bank's view
on the outlook for inflation remains cautious.
     In central Tokyo, the core consumer price index excluding fresh food rose
0.9% on year in December for the 18th straight year-on-year rise, with the pace
of increase decelerating from November's 1.0%, government data released Friday
showed.
     The core-core CPI (excluding fresh food and energy) -- a key indicator of
the underlying trend of inflation -- rose 0.6% on year in December, unchanged
from November's rate.
     --LEADING INDICATOR
     Tokyo CPI is a leading indicator of the national CPI for December, due out
on Jan. 18, 2019. It indicates that the core CPI in December will rise 0.9% on
year, unchanged from November -- although November's nationwide CPI came in
below the Tokyo level.
     The rise in Japan's inflation rate remains muted, but BOJ officials
maintained the view that Japan's inflation rate is expected to gradually rise as
the output gap remained positive territory.
     But looking ahead, the pace of pick-up is expected to slow as the positive
contribution from the rise in crude oil prices will weaken next year, worrying
BOJ officials who are expecting to see a gradual rise in the inflation rate.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-2175-0040; email: hiroshi.inoue@marketnews.com
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
[TOPICS: MAJDS$,MMJBJ$,M$A$$$,M$J$$$]
MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com