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Repeats Story Initially Transmitted at 05:34 GMT Mar 30/01:34 EST Mar 30
     TOKYO (MNI) - The key points from the central Tokyo consumer price index in
March released by the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications on Friday.
     * The Tokyo core consumer price index (excluding fresh food) rose 0.8% on
year in March for the ninth straight year-on-year rise, coming in lower than the
MNI median economist forecast for +0.9%. The pace of increasing decelerated from
+0.9% in February due to smaller y/y gains in energy, processed food, overseas
holiday tours and hotels. In fiscal 2017 ending in March, the index rose 0.4%
from the previous year, the first rise in three years after falling 0.4% in
fiscal 2016 and being unchanged in fiscal 2015.
     * The March increase in the core inflation reading was led by higher prices
for mobile phones, up 26.0% on year in March after +8.3% in February. It was
partly offset by a slower 0.4% rise in hotels following a 5.2% gain in the
previous month. Energy prices also slowed to +5.8% from +6.8%. This indicates
the national average core CPI may have also slowed in March from +1.0% on year
in February.
     * The slower pace of inflation was in payback for temporary price-boosting
factors in February, when Chinese tourists rushed to Japan during the Lunar New
Year holidays, pushing up the prices for accommodations here. Strong Japanese
demand for traveling to South Korea for the PyeongChang Winter Olympics also led
to higher prices for overseas tours in February.
     * The prices of goods excluding volatile fresh food rose 1.5% on year in
March, with the pace of increase decelerating from +1.6% in February. Service
prices remained depressed, rising 0.3% on year in March, slowing from +0.4% in
February.
     * The core-core CPI (excluding fresh food and energy) -- a key indicator of
the underlying trend of inflation -- rose 0.5% on year in March after rising at
the same pace in February. In fiscal 2017, the index rose just 0.1%, slowing
from +0.2% in fiscal 2016 and +0.7% in fiscal 2015.
--MNI Tokyo Bureau; tel: +81 90-4670-5309; email: max.sato@marketnews.com