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Wholesale prices rose in April to their highest level since February 1998, pushed up by surging nonferrous metal prices and a rebound in crude oil prices, the Bank of Japan said Monday.

Wholesale prices, gauged by the BOJ’s corporate goods price index, rose 2.2 percent in April from a year earlier for the 38th straight monthly increase, to 102.2 against a base of 100 for the year 2000, the central bank said in a preliminary report.

The previous high was 102.4, posted in February 1998.

On a month-to-month basis, wholesale prices climbed 0.8 percent, posting the same margin of increase as July 2006 and the highest gain since April 1997, when the index grew 2.0 percent following a hike in the consumption tax from 3 percent to 5 percent, the BOJ said.

Market players had expected April wholesale prices to rise 1.8 percent from the year before and 0.4 percent from the previous month.

A BOJ official said that among nonferrous metals, copper prices soared in April as China increased purchases and strikes were feared at copper mines.

Oil product prices, which had declined since a peak last summer, resumed their rise, reflecting gains in crude oil prices on the global market and a slip in production capacity in Japan due to regular repairs of refinery facilities, the official said.

In April, nonferrous metal prices gained 16.4 percent from a year earlier, with the index for the item reaching the highest level of 206.3 against the base year of 2000.

Petroleum and coal products were unchanged from the year before, following a revised 2.0 percent dip in March.

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