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Last Updated: Friday, 28 April 2006, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Japan boosted by consumer data
A Japanese businessman looks at a board indicating Japan's Nikkei index closed at 17,045.34 points
An interest rate could be as early as July
Japan is showing signs of economic recovery that could pave the way for a an interest rate hike in coming months.

Japan's consumer price index (CPI) hit eight year peaks, with previewed figures for April continuing the trend.

Meanwhile, the economy got a further boost from news its jobless rate held at 4.1% - its lowest in eight years.

The news came as the central bank held interest rates at zero, as expected, but experts predict it could soon raise rates after seven years of deflation.

CPI data for March - which excludes perishable foods - continued the rise seen in January and February, with the index increasing by 0.5% from a year earlier.

Interest rate hike

"The numbers show that a rising trend in the CPI is continuing and...the Bank of Japan could raise interest rates at any time from July onwards," said Mamoru Yamazaki, senior economist at HSBC securities.

Though the 0.5% rise was not dramatic, it was the fifth month in a row that CPI increased.

The steady rise could be viewed as a signal that the world's second largest economy could break its current interest rate explained the BBC's Rico Hizon in Singapore.

In April the CPI revealed a hike in the core inflation rate of 0.3% from 0.2% in the previous two months.

"This could give confidence to the Bank of Japan" said Seiji Adachi, senior economist at Deutsche Securities.

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