RPT-Japan March CPI +0.2 pct yr/yr

Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:38pm EDT

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TOKYO, April 27 (Reuters) - Japan's core consumer prices rose 0.2 percent in March from a year earlier due to higher energy costs, but analysts say the country's escape from deflation is years away.

The rise in the core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile prices of fresh fruit, vegetables and seafood, beat a median market forecast for a 0.1 percent gain and followed a 0.1 percent rise in February, data by the Internal Affairs ministry showed on Friday.

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, fell 0.5 percent in March from a year earlier.

Core consumer prices in Tokyo, available a month before the nationwide data, fell 0.5 percent in April from a year earlier, after a 0.3 percent drop in March and bigger than a market forecast for a 0.4 percent decline.

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