Daily Management Review

Japan's Inflation Surpasses Estimates, Signalling The End Of Negative Rates


Japan's Inflation Surpasses Estimates, Signalling The End Of Negative Rates
Although core consumer inflation in Japan fell for a third consecutive month in January, it nevertheless above estimates and remained at the central bank's target of 2%, maintaining hopes that negative interest rates will cease by April.
According to data released on Tuesday by the internal affairs and communications ministry, the core consumer prices index (CPI) increased by 2.0%, which was less than the 2.3% increase in December. This suggests that the agony of rising living expenses may be lessened by the idea that cost-push inflation from commodity imports is abating.
Nevertheless, the increase exceeded median market expectations for a 1.8% increase, reiterating expectations that large corporations will propose substantial wage increases at labor-management wage discussions on March 13, paving the path for the Bank of Japan (BOJ) to remove negative interest rates in March or April.
"The January CPI leaves open the possibility of the BOJ hiking its policy rate at the March meeting if preliminary Shunto results due a few days before the meeting are encouraging," said Marcel Thieliant at Capital Economics, referring to Japanese name for the wage talks.
"We still consider an April hike more likely," Thieliant added. "For one thing, inflation will jump well above 2% in February as base effects from the launch of energy subsidies a year ago kick in, which would allow the Bank to tell a more compelling story that inflation remains strong," he added.
Fresh food prices are not included in Japan's core consumer price index, but oil goods are.

A significant decline in energy prices, which was a result of the base impact of the previous year's steep increase and government subsidies to lower utility and petrol bills, contributed to the slowdown. This was an indication of the weakening cost-push pressure that had held core inflation at or over the BOJ's 2% target since April 2022.
Analysts argue that going forward, the crucial question is whether wage increases would outpace inflation sufficiently to give families purchasing power, allowing businesses to maintain cost-passing and inflation sustained at the BOJ's 2% objective.
The BOJ regularly monitors the so-called "core core" index, which excludes the cost of energy and fresh food and rises 3.5% annually in January. This increase comes after a 3.7% increase in December.
"As far as prices are concerned, there's nothing in today's data that would stop the BOJ's move towards ending negative rates, which I think will come in April," said Izuru Kato, chief economist at Totan Research.
"The weak yen has created a stagflation-like situation, while the BOJ needs to strike a balance in view of two straight quarters of GDP contraction and lacklustre private consumption," he continued, referring to a state of low growth and high inflation.
New Zealand Is Going To Abandon The First In The World Tobacco Ban.
The world's first rule prohibiting tobacco sales to minors will be repealed in New Zealand on Tuesday, the government announced, despite warnings from campaigners and researchers about the possibility of fatalities.
The world's strictest anti-tobacco regulations, which were scheduled to go into effect in July, would have lowered the amount of nicotine in smoked tobacco products, prohibited sales to anybody born after January 1, 2009, and eliminated more than 90% of tobacco merchants.
As previously mentioned, the newly elected coalition government, which was chosen in October, affirmed on Tuesday that the law will be repealed urgently. This will allow them to do away with the requirement for public comment.
The coalition administration, according to Associate Health Minister Casey Costello, is dedicated to lowering smoking rates, but it is adopting a different regulatory strategy to deter smoking and lessen its harmful effects.
Costello declared, "I will shortly be taking a package of measures to cabinet to increase the tools available to help people quit smoking." To discourage youth, he also indicated that vaping laws would be tightened.
The decision has been criticism due to concerns that it may have a more significant effect on the Maori and Pasifika populations, who have higher rates of smoking. It has also been strongly attacked for its anticipated impact on health outcomes in New Zealand.
According to researcher Janet Hoek from Otago University, repeal will not improve health inequities, would be inconsistent with substantial research evidence, and would disregard measures strongly backed by Maori leaders.
"Large-scale clinical trials and modelling studies show the legislation would have rapidly increased the rates of quitting among smokers and made it much harder for young people to take up smoking," said Hoek, co-director of a group studying ways to reduce smoking.