Japan's September consumer inflation seen to hit over two-year low: Reuters poll

FILE PHOTO: A woman looks at items outside an outlet store at a shopping district in Tokyo, Japan, February 25, 2016. REUTERS/Yuya Shino/File Photo

TOKYO (Reuters) - Japan’s core consumer inflation likely slowed in September to its weakest in over two years, according to a Reuters poll, forecasting an outturn that would put pressure on the central bank to expand its stimulus policy.

The Internal Affairs Ministry will publish data on consumer prices at 8:30 a.m. Japan time on Oct. 18 (2330 GMT on Oct.17).

The core consumer price index, which includes oil products but excludes volatile fresh food costs, was seen up 0.3% in September from a year earlier after a 0.5% gain in August, the poll of 17 economists, released on Friday, showed.

It would match the same rate of growth in April 2017 and the weakest since March 2017 when the index rose 0.2%.

“Sluggish growth in consumer spending prompted firms to refrain from raising prices,” said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.

“Also price falls on electricity and gas likely dragged down energy prices.”

The data will be among factors the Bank of Japan will scrutinize at its next policy meeting on Oct. 30-31, when it also conducts a quarterly review of its growth and price outlook.

The central has signaled its readiness to ramp up stimulus to fend off shocks to the economy. But it has also stressed it would be mindful of any side-effects such an action could have, including the impact on financial institutions.

(This story has been refiled to correctly say 2017 from 2015 in the fourth paragraph)

Reporting by Kaori Kaneko; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore