Japan's Consumer Prices Rise; Automotive Exports Increase

The Japanese government reported that the countries consumer prices rose in Novemeber, marking the first such rise in more that two years. Meanwhile, a Japanese automotive industry body reported that automotive production and exports have also increased.

For the first time in more than two years, the Japanese government is reporting that consumer prices rose in November, according to the Associated Press. The new findings offer the latest sign that the country is emerging from years of falling prices that have prolonged its economic slump.

While the turnaround is good news for the world's second-largest economy, it reportedly boosts the possibility the central bank will raise interest rates.

Japan's economy has been stagnant for more than a decade, but has gradually strengthened exports and consumer spending while companies have cut costs and boosted profits, the Associated Press reported.

A separate government report, however, cast doubt on the optimistic outlook. The report says the country's unemployment rate rose to 4.6 percent in November, suggesting a slowdown in the job market despite steady improvements in corporate profits.

Meanwhile the Associated Press also reported that the overall job market in Japan has gradually improved since the jobless rate hit 5.5 percent in 2002 and 2003.

The strengthening exports of Japan got another boost from a 5 percent increase in automobile exports. Production of cars, trucks and buses in Japan in November rose 3.9 percent from a year earlier to 962,378 vehicles for the first rise in two months due to growing exports to North America, an industry body said.

According to the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association, automotive exports rose for the fourth straight months. This year's total exports would rise for the fourth consecutive year.