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Domestic wholesale prices fell 1.1 percent in fiscal 2001 for the fourth consecutive annual decline, the Bank of Japan said Monday, providing yet another sign that the economy has been ensnared by deflation.

The domestic wholesale price index averaged 94.9 in the fiscal year that ended March 31, against the base of 100 set in 1995, the BOJ said. In fiscal 2000, the index edged down 0.1 percent.

Prices of electrical machinery, including personal computers, dropped 5 percent in fiscal 2001 due to the burst of the information-technology bubble, the central bank said.

Prices of transportation equipment fell 2.2 percent due mainly to a decline in automobile prices, while steel prices were down 2.9 percent and precision instruments 1.5 percent.

On the other hand, prices of petroleum and coal products rose 2.6 percent due to the depreciation of the yen against the dollar in fiscal 2001. Nonferrous metal product prices gained 0.3 percent and edible farm and fishery products, including eggs, rose 1.3 percent.

The BOJ also announced that the WPI for March fell 1.3 percent compared with the same month the previous year, marking the 18th consecutive month of decline. For the month, however, the index stood at 94.4, unchanged from February.

In March, prices of petroleum and coal products rose 0.7 percent from February. Those of nonferrous metal products edged up 0.4 percent, while prices of farm and fisheries products for consumption lost 1.3 percent and electrical machinery 0.1 percent.

Export prices, measured in yen terms, grew 1.7 percent from a year earlier but fell 0.8 percent from February due to a rise in the yen’s value against the dollar, the central bank said.

Import prices, also measured in yen, dropped 1.6 percent from a year earlier and 0.7 percent from February as a result of the stronger yen.

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