UPDATE 1-Japan consumer inflation tops 1 pct for first time in 5 years
* Nov core CPI up 1.2 pct yr/yr vs forecast +1.1 pct
* Factory output up 0.1 pct in Nov vs forecast +0.4 pct
* Job availability hits 6-year high, retail sales jump
TOKYO, Dec 27 (Reuters) - Japanese consumer inflation topped 1 percent in November for the first time in five years, making steady headway under the central bank's efforts to achieve a 2 percent inflation target via aggressive monetary stimulus.
Factory output rose for a third straight month, retail sales jumped and job availability hit a six-year high, other data showed on Friday, adding to growing signs the recovery in the world's third-largest economy is gathering momentum.
Still, analysts remain doubtful of whether inflation will accelerate quickly enough to meet the BOJ's ambitious target, set in April, of 2 percent inflation in roughly two years.
"Consumer prices show signs of being pushed up by the weak yen, so we're still looking at cost-push inflation. It remains to be seen how strongly wages will rise," said Yasuo Yamamoto, senior economist at Mizuno Research Institute in Tokyo.
The core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile costs of fresh food, rose 1.2 percent in November from a year earlier, government data showed on Friday, roughly in line with a median market forecast for a 1.1 percent increase.
That was the fastest pace of growth since a 1.9 percent increase in October 2008, when a spike in global commodity prices pushed up import costs.
In a sign of broadening inflation, the so-called core-core inflation index - which excludes food and energy prices and is similar to the core index used in the United States - rose 0.6 percent in the year to November. That marked the second straight month of gains and the biggest increase since August 1998.
Factory output rose 0.1 percent in November, less than a median market forecast for a 0.4 percent increase, although manufacturers surveyed by the government expect production to rise in December and January.
The BOJ launched an intense burst of monetary stimulus in April, pledging to accelerate inflation to 2 percent in roughly two years via aggressive asset purchases in a country mired in prolonged deflation.
Japan's economic growth slowed in the third quarter due to soft exports after outpacing its G7 counterparts in the first half of this year.
Analysts expect the economy to pick up again as consumers try to beat a sales tax hike in April next year, although they worry about the damage the higher tax could do to the economy in the latter half of next year.
BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda has repeatedly said the pain from the sales tax hike will be temporary and will not derail the path towards achieving the bank's 2 percent price target.
He has also said wages, which have barely risen for years in Japan, need to rise for the BOJ to achieve its price target and for household spending to sustain strength.
In a sign of a tightening job market, the jobs-to-applicants ratio improved to 1.00 in November, meaning one job was available for each job seeker, from 0.98 in October.
This was the strongest demand for workers since the ratio was 1.01 in October 2007, as demand for real estate and other services led to labour shortages at some non-manufacturers.
Retail sales rose 4.0 percent in November from a year earlier, exceeding a median forecast for a 2.9 percent increase, partly due to demand ahead of a planned increase in the sales tax next year.