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The key gauge of consumer prices in Tokyo fell 0.7 percent in November from a year earlier for a record 38th straight month of year-on-year declines, the government said Friday.

The consumer price index for Tokyo’s 23 wards, excluding volatile prices of perishable foods, came to 97.8 against the base of 100 for 2000, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said in a preliminary report.

The index also fell on the month, slipping 0.1 percent.

Including perishables, the index fell 0.2 percent from a year earlier to 98, the ministry said.

It rose 0.1 percent from the previous month.

Consumer prices in Tokyo are regarded as a leading indicator of prices nationwide.

Prices for education and entertainment durable goods, including computers, fell 13.2 percent from a year earlier, with the price of desktop personal computers down 21.1 percent and those of notebook PCs falling 26.2 percent.

Other items contributing to the decline were housing rents, down 1 percent from a year earlier, electricity, down 6.1 percent, and household durable goods, down 8.1 percent.

By item, the prices of air conditioners dropped 13.9 percent and those of refrigerators fell 17.7 percent.

The 0.7 percent fall in the Tokyo CPI excluding perishables was the smallest in eight months, following a 0.8 percent fall in October and 0.9 percent declines in both August and September.

The margin of decline was limited because a cut in subscription fees for communications satellite broadcasts, which was implemented a year earlier, is no longer affecting overall price falls, a ministry official said.

The official’s comment suggests Japan’s overall deflationary trend is continuing.

At the same time, the ministry reported the nationwide CPI for October. It came to an index reading of 98.2, excluding perishables, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier for the 37th consecutive month of fall.

It was down 0.1 percent from the previous month.

Including perishables, the index was at 98.3, down 0.9 percent from a year earlier and down 0.2 percent from the previous month.

Household spending

Spending by wage-earning households fell a real 0.7 percent in October from a year earlier to 325,929 yen per household, the government said Friday in a preliminary report.

The decline followed a rise of 4.1 percent in September and a fall of 0.3 percent in August, the Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications Ministry said.

The average monthly income of such households fell 1.6 percent in real terms to 472,935 yen, taking into account price fluctuations. Disposable income decreased a real 1.4 percent to 397,048 yen.

Personal spending accounts for about 60 percent of gross domestic product, and wage-earning households’ outlays make up 60 percent of personal spending.

“The 0.7 percent fall is mainly attributed to more spending in September, which had two three-day weekends,” said Masato Aida, director of the ministry’s Consumer Statistics Division.

Spending on health and medical care fell 9.8 percent from a year earlier, affected by a 13.4 percent decline in spending on medical services such as hospital stays, the ministry said.

Spending on education decreased 4.2 percent, due mainly to lower outlays on tuition fees, the ministry said.

Spending on recreation, however, rose 9.6 percent, spurred by television purchases, it said.

“Spending on television purchases jumped 251.4 percent from a year earlier, boosted by an increase in their unit cost, even though the number of units did not increase so much,” Aida said.

Spending on housing rose 7.2 percent, helped by a 36.3 percent increase in home improvements, the ministry said.

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