• Reuters

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Japan’s core consumer prices marked a ninth straight month of annual gains in September but failed to accelerate from the previous month, underscoring the central bank’s huge task as it struggles to meet an ever-elusive 2 percent inflation target.

Most of September’s scant inflation was driven by continued rises in energy costs, which were partly offset by falling cellphone bills — another sign that companies are still reluctant to raise prices for fear of stalling a fragile recovery in private consumption.

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