• Kyodo

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Wholesale prices rose 1.7 percent in March as the weakening of the yen pushed up prices for energy and materials, the Bank of Japan said Friday.

The index of corporate goods prices stood at 102.8 against the 2010 base of 100, compared with a year earlier, the central bank said in a preliminary report. Wholesale prices have now risen for 12 consecutive months.

For fiscal 2013 through March, the price index rose 1.9 percent to 102.4, the highest since fiscal 2008.

In March, overall prices were pushed up by higher import costs for fuel as oil and coal rose 5.6 percent from the previous year and electricity, gas and water bills grew 12.6 percent.

However, the year-on-year price gain in March decelerated from a revised 1.8 percent in February as the effects of the yen’s slide diminished and some materials prices fell amid concerns about China’s economic outlook, a BOJ official said.

Referring to the impact of the April 1 sales tax hike to 8 percent from 5 percent, the official said, “It is still unclear how much last-minute demand was generated and how much of a decline will follow. We want to keep monitoring how that will impact the macro economy.”

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