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15

Japan Inflation Rose Suddenly, Nippon Oil Raised Fuel Prices

Japan's producer-price inflation accelerated for the first time in six months in March

Japan's producer-price inflation accelerated for the first time in six months in March as higher oil prices pushed up the cost of gasoline and chemical materials.

An index of energy and raw materials prices climbed 2 percent from a year earlier after rising a revised 1.7 percent in February, the Bank of Japan said in Tokyo today. The result exceeded the 1.9 percent median estimate of 33 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

Crude oil's 13 percent jump this year led Nippon Oil Corp. to raise wholesale fuel prices and chemical maker Teijin Ltd. to pass on higher costs of polycarbonate. That hasn't sparked consumer-price inflation, amid competition between Sony Corp. and its rivals for sales of computers and flat-panel televisions.

Nippon Oil, Japan's biggest petroleum refiner, raised wholesale fuel prices by 3.4 yen a liter this month. Dubai crude oil, the benchmark for Asian refiners, has risen 13 percent this year, soaring as high as $64.68 a barrel on April 5 from a low of $49.22 on Jan. 19.