Japan's core CPI improved to a 1.0% y/y pace in February
Japan's core CPI improved to a 1.0% y/y pace in February from the 0.9% rate of annual increase in January. Total CPI climbed to a 1.5% y/y clip from 1.4% in January. The core rate is the fastest pace since the 2.2% y/y gain in March of 2015, which gave way to -0.5% rates of decline from July to September of 2016. The BoJ's target is a 2% core rate, so analysts are now half way there. However, the beating drums of global trade war threaten Japan's export oriented growth engine, while the appreciating yen is a headwind to exports and inflation. The yen is holding just below 105.00 -- it was as high as 114.09 in early November. Meanwhile, weakness in North American equities (the Dow tumbled 2.9%, the S&P 500 was off 2.5% and the Nasdaq was down 2.4%) has spilled-over to Asian markets, with the Nikkei 225 3.5% in the red while Hong Kong's Hang Seng has tumbled 3.7% in pre-market trading.