Japan™s inflation rate slowed for a fourth straight month, adding to central bank chief Haruhiko Kuroda™s challenges in reflating the world™s third-biggest economy.

Consumer prices excluding fresh food increased 2.7 percent in November from a year earlier, the statistics bureau said today, matching a median projection in a Bloomberg News survey of economists. Stripped of the effect of April™s sales-tax increase, core inflation — the Bank of Japan™s key measure — was 0.7 percent.

Tumbling oil prices could push Japan™s inflation as low as 0.5 percent by the middle of next year, according to economists at NLI Research Institute and Dai-ichi Life Research Institute. Over the longer term, Kuroda said yesterday, cheaper oil spells good news for the economy that will increase consumer prices as the central bank aims for a 2 percent target.

Energy prices dropped 1.2 percent from a month earlier, according to today™s data. The price of Dubai crude oil — a benchmark for Middle East supply to Asia — has lost about a half of its value in the past year.

Source : Bloomberg