Japan’s business services inflation hits 8-year high in fiscal 2022

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan’s business-to-business service inflation hit an eight-year high in the fiscal year that ended March, data showed on Tuesday, a sign inflationary pressure was broadening beyond goods reflecting a tight job market and solid domestic demand.

The data may keep alive market expectations that new Bank of Japan (BOJ) Governor Kazuo Ueda will phase out the bank’s massive stimulus programme in coming months.

The services producer price index, which measures the prices companies charge each other for services, rose 1.8% in fiscal 2022, higher than a 1.2% increase in the previous year, BOJ data showed on Tuesday. It was the fastest pace of increase since fiscal 2014, when it rose 3.3%.

In March, the index rose 1.6% from a year ago, marking the 25th straight month of year-on-year increase, the data showed. It followed a revised 1.7% gain in February.

The gain in March was driven largely by a rebound in inbound and domestic tourism with hotel fees up 32.4% from a year earlier, reflecting the government’s removal of COVID-19 curbs, the data showed.

The data came after top companies agreed to their largest pay increases in a quarter century in annual labour talks with unions in March, a sign the country may be finally shaking off the public’s sticky deflationary mindset.

(Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Sam Holmes)