Japan Consumer Prices Fall Further

Japan's core consumer inflation rate fell 2.2% in October, posting the eighth straight year-on-year decline as the costs of gasoline, heating oil and overseas holiday tours continued to show sharp declines from year-earlier levels.

But the pace of price drops slowed slightly for the second month in a row, rising from -2.3% in September and the record -2.4% in August as the energy costs were not as far below their summer 2008 peaks than in previous months.

The core CPI, which excludes fresh food but includes gasoline and heating oil costs, has shown wide-spread declines in prices of goods and services as energy prices remain below their high levels seen a year before and retailers are cutting prices to lure customers.

Retail gasoline prices had been on a general uptrend through Oct. 5 since mid-January this year, before they began to slide again, the latest data released by the Oil Information Center showed. The national average price of regular gasoline hit a record high of Y185.1 on Aug. 4, 2008.

In July and August 2008, the core index hit +2.4%, the fastest pace of inflation since October 1997, but started to slide from there. Excluding the effects of the April 1997 sales tax hike, the July-August rate was the highest in about 16 years, since +2.5% in June 1992.

In October this year, core national CPI fell 0.1% month-on-month, after rising 0.1% in September, which was the first m/m gain in six months.

Meanwhile, core central Tokyo CPI fell only 1.9% year-on-year in November, below the record drop of 2.2% in October. It was still the seventh straight y/y drop in the capital.

Lower costs of overseas holiday tours continued to lead the decline but lower gasoline prices were not listed as a major contributor to the overall price drop.

Japan Consumer Prices Fall Further

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
11/27/2009 12:33:30 PM