Japan Inflation Quickens to 0.4%

Japan's inflation rose at the fastest pace in more than nine years in November and industrial production and household spending declined, signaling rising oil costs may derail the economy's longest postwar expansion.

Core consumer prices, which exclude fresh food, climbed 0.4 percent from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today in Tokyo. Factory output slid 1.6 percent from a month earlier. Households cut spending 0.6 percent, the first drop since July.

Wages fell and employment prospects worsened as job seekers outnumbered vacancies for the first time in two years, the Labor Ministry said today. Surging energy costs rather than consumer spending are driving inflation, making it likely the Bank of Japan will refrain from raising interest rates as growth slows.

The jobs-to-applicants ratio fell to 0.99 in November from 1.02 in October, the Labor Ministry said. Wages slid 0.2 percent from a year earlier. Pay has only risen in one month this year.

Japan's last bout of higher inflation amid slowing job growth was during a recession a decade ago. This time it may be worse for consumers: wages have fallen an average 0.5 percent this year. In 1997, they rose 1.7 percent.

Retail sales rose 1.6 percent, the fastest gain in two years, as consumers paid more for gasoline and food, the Trade Ministry said today. Households last month became the most pessimistic they've been in almost four years.

Japan Inflation Quickens to 0.4%

TradingEconomics.com, Bloomberg
12/28/2007 7:03:25 PM