Wholesale prices jump 9% in August as weak yen lifts import costs

Wholesale prices in Japan climbed 9.0 percent in August from a year earlier as the yen’s tumble against the U.S. dollar and other major currencies boosted import costs, Bank of Japan data showed Tuesday.

It marked the 18th straight month of increase, lifting the corporate goods price index to 115.1 against the 2020 base of 100, renewing a record high, according to the central bank.

The surge has raised fears that recent price hikes by businesses may last in the long term, with consumers struggling to keep up with the rising cost of living as wages remain stagnant.

Import prices in yen terms grew 42.5 percent, the fifth consecutive month that the margin of increase has surpassed 40 percent.

The Japanese currency hit a fresh 24-year low against the dollar last week, as the BOJ maintains its ultraeasy monetary policy in sharp contrast to the hawkish Federal Reserve, which has been raising interest rates to tame surging inflation.

Electricity, city gas and water prices surged 33.4 percent, while those of petroleum and coal products increased 15.6 percent. Steel prices rose 26.1 percent, and wood and lumber rose 20.2 percent.

Japan has seen core consumer prices rise above the BOJ’s target of 2 percent since April.

While export-oriented businesses, which have benefited from the weak yen, are under pressure to raise wages, the adverse effects of surging procurement costs may limit the change.

© KYODO