Japan's CPI up for fourth straight month, driven largely by higher energy prices

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Japan's consumer price index (CPI) for all items met expectations by rising 0.4 percent year-on-year in April — the fourth straight month of increases, official data released on Friday showed.

The country's core CPI, which excludes fresh food prices, also inched up by 0.3 percent year-on-year, but missing Reuters estimate of a 0.4 percent increase, the data showed.

The increase was largely due to higher energy costs. Stripping away energy and fresh food items, Japan's consumer price index was flat from the year ago, underscoring the challenges still facing the central bank after years of stimulus to hit its 2 percent inflation target.

Japan's economy grew more than expected in the first quarter to register the quickest pace in a year, preliminary data showed. But weak household spending and poor corporate pricing power have kept inflation around zero for almost two years.

In an interview with CNBC earlier this month, Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said wages and prices would begin to accelerate to achieve the 2 percent inflation target around fiscal 2018.

— Reuters contributed to this report.