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Japan’s wholesale prices rise
September 14, 2017
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TOKYO: Japanese wholesale prices rose at the fastest annual pace in nearly nine years in August as robust Chinese demand boosted commodity prices, offering glimmers of hope consumer inflation will accelerate toward the central bank’s 2 per cent target.

But some analysts warn the pick-up in wholesale inflation won’t be strong enough to nudge companies into boosting retail goods prices.

“The rise was driven mostly by items affected a lot by global commodities prices,” such as crude oil and metal goods, said Toru Suehiro, senior market economist at Mizuho Securities.

“Inflationary pressure remains weak for items like machinery,” he said, adding that wholesale inflation will likely peak around October.

Wholesale prices rose 2.9 per cent in August from a year earlier, increasing for the eighth straight month and marking the fastest pace of growth since October 2008, Bank of Japan (BOJ) data showed on Wednesday.

The rise in the corporate goods price index (CGPI), which measures the price that firms charge each other for their goods and services, was roughly in line with a median market forecast for a 3.0 per cent increase. The July gain was 2.6 per cent.

The increase was driven largely by rising import prices of crude oil, scrap metal and other commodities on robust demand from China, the data showed. Overall final goods prices - the prices of finished products charged to businesses - rose 1.4 per cent from a year earlier, the data showed.

Domestic final goods prices, which loosely track the consumer price index, rose 0.7 per cent from a year earlier.

ROBUST EXPORTS

Japan’s economy expanded at an annualised rate of 2.5 per cent in the second quarter thanks to robust exports and a long-awaited pick-up in private consumption.

But core consumer prices rose just 0.5 per cent in July from a year earlier, well below the BOJ’s elusive 2 per cent target, as companies remain hesitant to pass along rising labour and raw material costs to households.

The BOJ has had to push back the timing for reaching its price target six times since it deployed its massive stimulus programme in 2013.

It now hopes consumer inflation will hit its target by March 2020, as signs of strength in the economy and a tight job market boost wages and give households more purchasing power, thereby allowing firms to hike prices.

Meanwhile, Japanese stocks rose for a third day to a one-month high on Wednesday after Wall Street strengthened and the yen pulled back, helping buoy cyclicals such as exporters and banks.

Reuters

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