Japan just released a raft of economic data.
The detail was mixed with ongoing strength in labour market indicators and a stronger-than-expected lift in industrial output offset by inflation and retail sales data which disappointed to the downside.
In March, the unemployment rate held steady at 2.5%, in line with market expectations. The jobs-to-applicant ratio — measuring jobs available to those seeking work — rose to 1.59 from 1.58 in February, a result that was again in line with economist forecasts.
Industrial output growth also impressed in March, lifting by 1.2% following a 2% gain in February, well ahead of the 0.5% gain expected. Manufacturers indicated that they expect output to increase by a further 3.1% in April.
However, despite strong labour market conditions and industrial activity, inflationary pressures remained weak, at least in Tokyo.
In the Japanese capital, consumer price inflation (CPI) rose by just 0.5% in the 12 months to April, just half the increase seen in the year to March.
Core CPI — removing the impact of fresh food prices — grew by 0.6% over the same period, down from the 0.8% in the year to March. Economists had expected the annual rate to remain steady at 0.8%.
The Tokyo CPI report is released before the national figure, and hints that inflationary pressures nationwide may have also moderated in April.
Rounding off the mixed economic report card, retail sales grew at an annual pace of 1% in March, below the 1.7% increase eyed by economists. That followed an upwardly-revised 1.7% lift in the 12 months to February.
The data deluge comes before the Bank of Japan (BoJ) releases its April monetary policy decision later today. The BoJ is widely expected to keep policy settings unchanged, along with its expectation that core inflation will lift to its 2% annual target in the next financial year.
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