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January inflation in Tokyo tops BOJ target for 8th month

Consumer price rise of 4.3% is fastest year-on-year since May 1981

Consumer prices rose 4.3% in January, driven mostly by higher food and fuel bills. The jump is likely to raise pressure on the Bank of Japan to phase out its ultraloose monetary policy.    © Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Core consumer prices in Japan's capital, a leading indicator of nationwide trends, rose 4.3% in January from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, exceeding the central bank's 2% target for an eighth straight month.

The increase, which was driven mostly by food and fuel bills but spread to a broader range of goods, will likely keep the Bank of Japan (BOJ) under pressure to phase out its massive stimulus program, analysts say.

The rise in the Tokyo core consumer price index (CPI), which excludes fresh food but includes fuel, exceeded a median market forecast for a 4.2% gain and marked the fastest year-on-year increase since May 1981. It followed a 3.9% rise in December.

The Tokyo core-core CPI index, which excludes fuel as well as fresh food, was 3.0% higher in January than a year earlier, picking up from December's 2.7% annual gain.

The BOJ kept monetary policy ultraloose this month but raised its inflation forecasts in fresh quarterly projections, as companies continued to pass on higher raw material costs to households.

BOJ Gov. Haruhiko Kuroda, whose term will end in April, has stressed the need to keep monetary policy ultraloose until wages rise more, changing the recent cost-push inflation into inflation driven by robust domestic demand.

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