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Japan March Retail Sales Rises 1.1%

Japanese retail sales rose 1.1 percent in March from a year earlier, government data showed on Monday, matching economists' median forecast.

Compared with February, retail sales rose 0.5 percent on a seasonally adjusted basis.

Economists said the rise may have been influenced by rising prices, rather than stronger consumer spending.

"The rise is mainly due to increases in fuel and food sales as their prices rose. Thus, excluding those factors, retail sales and consumption are basically flat," Yasuo Yamamoto, senior economist, Mizuho Research Institute said.

Azusa Kato, an economist at BNP Paribas added "it's hard to expect a significant improvement in consumption. With corporate earnings deteriorating, it is hard to think wages will rise in the near future."

Retail sales picked up pace in February, rising 3.2 percent from a year earlier, despite slow growth in wages.

On Friday, data showed Japanese annual inflation hit a decade-high 1.2 percent in March, as energy prices soared, but the central bank is expected to sit tight on interest rates in the face of a soft economic outlook at home and abroad.

The yen edged down to 104.67 yen towards a two-month low against the dollar as a vew grew that the Federal Reserve may stop cutting interest rates.