Japan consumer prices, household spending slump in November

Women looking at clothes on sale at a retail store in Tokyo, on Oct 28, 2016.
Women looking at clothes on sale at a retail store in Tokyo, on Oct 28, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

TOKYO (REUTERS) - Japan's core consumer prices marked the ninth straight month of annual declines in November, data showed on Tuesday, suggesting that the economy still lacks enough momentum to jump-start inflation toward the central bank's ambitious 2 per cent target.

Separate data showed household spending fell even as job availability hit a fresh 25-year high, underscoring the fragile nature of the economic recovery.

The core consumer price index (CPI), which includes oil products but excludes volatile fresh food prices, slipped 0.4 per cent in November from a year earlier, government data showed.

That compared with a median market forecast for a 0.3 per cent decline and matched the pace of drop in October.

Core consumer prices in Tokyo, available a month before the nationwide data, fell 0.6 per cent in December from a year earlier, more than a 0.4 per cent annual fall projected by analysts polled by Reuters.

Separate data showed the jobs-to-applicants ratio rose to 1.41 from 1.40 in the previous month, matching a median market forecast and reaching the highest level since July 1991.

But household spending fell 1.5 per cent in November from a year earlier to decline for the ninth straight month, suggesting that slow wage growth was keeping consumers from boosting spending.

Japan's economy recorded a third straight quarter of annual expansion in July-September, albeit at a modest pace, as slow wage growth weighed on household spending.

But exports and factory output have recently shown signs of life on a pick-up in global demand, offering some hope for policymakers struggling to pull the economy out of stagnation.

The BOJ offered an upbeat view of the economy at its rate review last week.

But Governor Haruhiko Kuroda repeated that Japan is still far from reaching the bank's 2 per cent inflation target, signalling that the BOJ will maintain its ultra-loose policy for the time being.