The corporate goods price index fell 0.9 percent in February from a year earlier, the Bank of Japan said in a preliminary report Thursday.

The CGPI reading came to 95.3 against the base of 100 for 2000, the central bank said. The margin of decline was smaller due to rises in crude oil prices than in January, when it dropped by 1 percent.

The February CGPI reading signified a month-to-month rise of 0.2 percent from January, the first monthly rise since February 2002.

By goods sector, wholesale prices fell 6.6 percent from a year earlier in the electrical machinery and equipment sector, which includes personal computers.

But they rose 0.7 percent in the agricultural and fisheries product sector, led by rising egg prices, and 14 percent in the petroleum and coal sector due to increasing fuel prices.

Export prices in the reporting month fell 6.2 percent in yen terms from a year before, with the export prices index coming to 99.7, and dropped 1 percent in terms of contract currencies.

Import prices edged up 0.4 percent on the year in yen terms with its index standing at 102.9, and rose 7.8 percent in terms of contract currencies.

The dollar averaged 119.43 yen during the month, down from 133.48 yen in February 2002.

The CGPI was introduced in January to replace the wholesale prices index. The base year has been changed from 1995 used for the WPI to 2000 in the new index. The CGPI is designed to reflect changes in prices more accurately.

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