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Tokyo inflation slows for 2nd straight month, falls under BOJ goal

Core CPI rises 1.6% in April vs forecast of 2.2%

Sensoji temple is seen from Asakusa culture tourist information center in Tokyo on April 25.   © Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Core inflation in Japan's capital slowed for a second month in April to fall below the central bank's 2% target, data showed on Friday, complicating its decision on how soon to raise interest rates.

The reading comes just hours ahead of the conclusion of the Bank of Japan's two-day policy meeting, where the board is set to keep interest rates steady and produce fresh quarterly inflation projections through early 2027.

The core consumer price index in Tokyo, a leading indicator of nationwide figures, increased 1.6% in April from a year earlier, slowing from a 2.4% gain in March. It compared with a median market forecast for a 2.2% rise.

A separate index that excludes the effect of both fresh food and fuel costs, viewed as a broader price trend indicator, also showed inflation slowing to 1.8% in April from 2.9% in March. It was the slowest pace of increase since September 2022, when the index rose 1.7% year-on-year.

While core inflation is still above the central bank's 2% target, the slowdown highlights uncertainty on whether consumption and wage pressure will strengthen enough to keep price growth durably around that level.

The BOJ has said its decision to end negative rates last month was driven by signs that robust demand and the prospect of higher wages were prodding firms to keep hiking prices for both goods and services.

The weak yen complicates the BOJ's rate hike path. While it helps exports and pushes up inflation, the hit to consumption could cool the economy and discourage firms from passing on the higher costs to households.

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