Japan Core Consumer Prices Up 4.2 % in Jan.

Reuters file photo
Shoppers are seen at a supermarket in Tokyo on Jan. 10.

TOKYO (Jiji Press) — Japan’s core consumer prices climbed 4.2% from a year earlier in January, due to higher food and energy prices, exhibiting the fastest rise in over 41 years, government data showed Friday.

The core CPI, which excludes often volatile fresh food prices, stood at 104.3 against 100 for the base year of 2020, with the rate of growth matching that marked in September 1981, according to the internal affairs ministry data. The index rose for the 17th straight month in January.

Month on month, the index was up 0.3% after seasonal adjustment.

The year-on-year growth was slower than the median forecast of a 4.3% increase among 18 economic research institutes surveyed by Jiji Press.

Prices of food excluding fresh food were up 7.4%, with prices rising for 90% of surveyed items. Electricity and city gas rates soared 20.2% and 35.2%, respectively.

A slower drop in accommodation fees, attributed to a cut in the discount rate from January for travel expenses offered under the government’s tourism promotion campaign, also contributed to the climb of the index.

The overall CPI, including fresh food prices, rose 4.% year on year. Meanwhile, the index excluding fresh food and energy prices was up 3.2%.

From February, the pace of CPI growth might possibly be about 1 percentage point lower than in January, thanks to the government’s measures to ease the burden of higher electricity and gas bills.

Food prices, however, are expected to rise faster because prices of frozen foods and seasoning products are slated to keep going higher.

Nikkei posts strong rebound

Tokyo stocks rebounded Friday, with sentiment brightened by a rosy business prospect for the chip sector and Bank of Japan nominee Kazuo Ueda’s dovish remarks at a Diet hearing the same day.

The Nikkei average of 225 selected issues listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange’s Prime section advanced 349.16 points, or 1.29%, to finish at 27,453.48 after losing 368.78 points Wednesday.

The Tokyo market was closed Thursday for a national holiday.

The broader TOPIX index rose 13.15 points, or 0.67%, to 1,988.40, following a 22.21-point drop the previous trading day.

The market got off to a firmer start, in the wake of all three major U.S. stock indexes going up Thursday.

Vigorous buying of semiconductor-related issues, such as Advantest and Tokyo Electron, lifted the Nikkei average, in particular, after U.S. chip giant Nvidia released a strong sales estimate for February-April.

But the rally lost steam later in the morning.

Ueda’s dovish remarks “were not powerful enough” for the market to extend gains in the afternoon, Masahiro Ichikawa, chief market strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui DS Asset Management Co., said.

“Investors know they have to wait until April to see how the new BOJ governor will steer monetary policy,” Ichikawa said.

Yutaka Miura, senior technical analyst at Mizuho Securities Co., noted that the market’s topside was capped by falling U.S. stock index futures in premarket trading.