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Japan's wholesale prices up 1.7% in Jan. on higher oil prices

This photo taken on July 16, 2019, shows the Bank of Japan building after the completion of construction to beef up its earthquake resistance. (Kyodo)

TOKYO (Kyodo) -- Japan's wholesale prices rose 1.7 percent in January from a year earlier on higher crude oil prices, the Bank of Japan said Thursday.

    The growth, the fastest since wholesale prices climbed 2.3 percent in November 2018, resulted from a spike in crude oil prices caused by a partial trade deal between the United States and China and growing U.S.-Iran political tensions, a BOJ official said.

    The prices of goods traded among companies increased from levels a year before for the third consecutive month. Excluding the impact of the consumption tax, which rose to 10 percent from 8 percent on Oct. 1, the prices climbed 0.1 percent in January, posting the first increase without the tax impact since May 2019.

    However, "crude oil and commodity prices started to fall from the middle of January due to the coronavirus outbreak, which could weigh on prices in the coming months," the BOJ official said at a briefing, adding that the central bank will closely monitor developments.

    By item, prices for oil and coal products gained 9.2 percent from a year earlier while ceramic, stone and clay product prices increased 3.9 percent.

    Utility prices fell 3.8 percent as electric power companies lowered bills after the summer season, while scrap and waste prices dropped 14.8 percent due to weak demand in overseas markets.

    Import prices fell 0.7 percent while export prices dropped 1.4 percent from a year earlier, both in yen terms.

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