The nationwide consumer price index in fiscal 2001 fell a record 0.8 percent as the deflationary spiral showed no signs of abating, the government said Friday.

The index has now fallen for four years in a row.

The key index, which excludes volatile prices of perishable foods, fell to 99 against the fiscal 2000 base of 100, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said.

Meanwhile, the preliminary core CPI for Tokyo — a leading indicator of nationwide price movements — fell to 97.9 in April, down 1.1 percent from a year before for the 31st consecutive month of decline.

The figures show there are no signs that deflation is diminishing and cast a shadow on hopes for an economic recovery.

The overall Tokyo CPI, which includes perishable food prices, came to 97.9 in April, down 1.3 percent and the 32nd month of decline, the ministry said.

In March, the key nationwide CPI, excluding perishable foods, fell to 98.4, down 0.7 percent from the previous year.

Contributing to the nationwide price fall in fiscal 2001 was a 20.5 percent drop in prices of durable goods related to entertainment and culture, such as personal computers, according to the ministry.

Prices of notebook computers fell 37.5 percent, while those of desktop computers fell 35.7 percent and prices of videotape recorders dropped 16.6 percent.

Prices of clothing declined 3.1 percent, while telecommunication prices fell 5.6 percent.

The drop in durable goods led to a 1.9 percent fall in goods for fiscal 2001, while prices for services were unchanged, due partly to the end of a 50 percent discount campaign at McDonald’s Co. (Japan) Ltd., according to the ministry.

In April, the fall in Tokyo prices reflected a 5.9 percent drop in electricity charges by Tokyo Electric Power Co.

Other factors contributing to the decline were an 18.2 percent drop in durable goods, including computers, and a 0.9 percent fall in housing rents, it said.

Compared with the month before, however, prices in April rose 0.2 percent, up for the second month in a row, with clothing and shoe prices up 3.9 percent and education fees up 1.2 percent, the ministry said.

Compared with a month before, nationwide prices in March rose 0.2 percent, up for the first time since last May.

Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Heizo Takenaka, referring to the month-on-month increases, said, “Some bright signs can be seen, but we cannot be optimistic on the changes seen in just one month.”

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