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Japan's Feb. wholesale prices up 0.8% on hopes for US-China deal

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's wholesale prices rose 0.8 percent in February from a year earlier amid easing concerns about the economic outlook on expectations that the United States and China are moving closer to solving their trade dispute, the Bank of Japan said Wednesday.

The prices of goods traded between companies increased for the 26th consecutive month, following a 0.6 percent rise in January, according to the central bank.

By item, prices for paper and pulp products gained 4.7 percent. Those for iron and steel were up 3.1 percent, with metal products expanding 2.5 percent.

"An easing of pessimistic views due to expectations of developments in the U.S.-China trade talks led to a recovery in commodity prices," a BOJ official said.

In the reporting month, U.S. President Donald Trump said he has decided to delay the imposition of additional tariffs on Chinese imports, citing the "substantial progress" made in trade talks with Beijing.

Concerns that a prolonged U.S.-China trade war could slow the global economy have weakened demand for commodities such as oil, a major factor affecting wholesale prices in Japan.

Prices for petroleum and coal products dropped 2.1 percent, a small margin of decline than the upwardly revised 4.2 percent slide in January.

Among other decliners, nonferrous metals such as aluminum sagged 5.6 percent and chemicals and related products including medicines declined 2.7 percent.

Export prices dropped 1.7 percent and import prices fell 0.7 percent, both in yen terms.

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