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Japan inflation ticks up in April as oil prices rebound

Associated Press logo Associated Press 26/05/2017

TOKYO — Japan's core consumer price index climbed to a two-year high in April of 0.3 percent, as costs for energy rose.

Economists said the increase reported Friday was not likely to persist and that prices for imported consumer goods actually fell. Inflation has been positive in recent months but well below the government's 2 percent target.

Core inflation excluding volatile food prices rose 0.3 percent from a year earlier in April, just above the rate in March. Inflation excluding both fresh foods and energy was up 0.1 percent, while energy costs rose by 4.5 percent.

The government said the cost of gasoline surged 15 percent and the cost of kerosene jumped 28 percent, as U.S. benchmark crude oil rose from about $40 a barrel a year ago to about $49 today.

Crude oil prices fell overnight by 5 percent after oil producing nations opted to extend a six-month production increase freeze by another nine months, a shorter extension than had been expected.

"Headline inflation," which includes both fresh food and energy costs, rose 0.4 percent from a year earlier and 0.1 percent from March, the report said.

Energy inflation will likely peak in the July-September quarter and then weaken, Marcel Thieliant of Capital Economics said in a commentary.

Since wage growth remains weak, cost pressures are not strong enough to sustain stronger inflation.

"The upshot is that headline inflation is unlikely to rise much further from now on," Thieliant said.

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