Japan Feb core CPI falls 0.3 pct yr/yr

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TOKYO, March 25 (Reuters) – Japan’s core consumer prices fell 0.3 percent in
February from a year earlier, Internal Affairs ministry data showed on Friday, with
the pace of decline accelerating slightly due to slower rises in commodity costs.

The fall in the core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile
prices of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood, matched a median market forecast, and
followed a 0.2 percent decline in January.

Core consumer prices in Tokyo, available a month before the nationwide data, fell 0.3
percent in March from a year earlier, after a 0.4 percent drop
in February . The figure also matched the market forecast.

The March data for Tokyo was compiled before the devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunami
that hit northeast Japan and thus does not reflect the disaster’s impact on prices.

Economists expect core consumer inflation to turn positive in April as the effect of the
government’s decision last year to abolish high school tuition, which pushed down the index by
about half a percentage point, disappears. Some also say the earthquake and ensuing nuclear
safety crisis may further push up prices as supply disruptions produced shortages of some goods.

The so-called core-core inflation index for the whole of Japan, which excludes food and
energy prices and is similar to the core index used in the United States, fell 0.6
percent in February from a year earlier.

(Reporting by Rie Ishiguro, Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

Japan Feb core CPI falls 0.3 pct yr/yr