The key gauge of consumer prices in Tokyo fell 0.1 percent in October from a year earlier, marking a record 49th straight month of decline, the government said Friday in a preliminary report.

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

Compared with the previous month, the index rose 0.2 percent.

The margin of decline from a year earlier was narrower than the 0.3 percent recorded for the previous month and was the smallest since September 1999, when the index was unchanged, the report notes.

The core Tokyo CPI is viewed as a leading indicator of consumer prices nationwide.

Including perishables, the index fell 0.3 percent from a year earlier to 97.6.

The ministry said that prices of rice rose 11.6 percent from a year earlier amid expectations that the rice harvest would be the worst in a decade, helping to narrow the decline of the index by 0.1 percentage point.

The rise in rice prices is the steepest since an increase of 12.5 percent recorded in August 1994, it said.

Among other items that registered price rises, tobacco prices rose 8.2 percent following a tax hike in July, while prices of personal goods jumped 6 percent.

Prices continued to decline for durable products used for education and entertainment purposes, including computers and television sets, which recorded a combined slide of 14.8 percent.

Prices of other home-use durable goods dipped 7.5 percent.

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