Japan's key retail-price gauge deflated in March from a year earlier, even as the index rose compared to February's levels, the Finance Ministry reported Friday.
The core consumer price index, which strips out volatile fresh-food prices, was 0.5% lower than for March of last year, the fifth straight monthly drop, with the result coming in slightly worse than the 0.4% decline expected in separate Dow Jones Newswires and Reuters surveys of economists.
However, the core CPI rose 0.3% compared with the previous month. In February, Japan's core CPI fell 0.3% from the year-earlier period. The April core CPI for metropolitan Tokyo, used a leading indicator of price trends in Japan, registered a 0.3% year-on-year drop, though it too was up 0.3% from February.
On a national level, March prices for furniture, culture and recreation, and food showed the largest drops.
The yen rose slightly following the data, with the dollar USDJPY -1.2119% slipping from ¥99.38 ahead of the numbers to ¥99.33. The consumer price report preceded a policy decision due later in the day from the Bank of Japan, which hopes to meet a 2% consumer-inflation target within the coming two years.