Japan’s core consumer prices fell 0.1 percent in August from a year earlier, data showed on Friday. It was the first year-on-year drop since August 2013.
The core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes fresh food prices, matched economists median estimate for a 0.1 percent annual gain.
The so-called core-core inflation index, which excludes food and energy prices and is similar to the core index used in other countries, rose 0.8 percent in the year to August.
Deflation fears have plagued Japan, putting pressure on policymakers. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Japan’s central bank have pledged to get the economy out of the deflation it has been battling for years. Even though the fall in prices last month was expected, some economists said the latest reading would result in the Bank of Japan stepping up its pace of easing in October.
Japan’s Nikkei 225 index swung up in the final hour of trading to close up nearly 2 percent, recouping almost two-thirds of Thursday’s steep 2.8 percent slump. The late-day rally may then be connected with speculations that the Bank of Japan will be stepping up its easing at the October policy meeting.