Japan 2015 inflation at 0.5 pct, unemployment to 3.4 pct

Japan's core inflation rate slipped to 0.5 percent in 2015, as low oil prices hindered efforts by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to spur growth by pushing prices higher.

Data released Friday also showed that consumer spending fell 4.4 percent in December from a year earlier, suggesting that households are choosing to save rather than splurge on any gains from the low oil prices that are slowing inflation.

Average incomes fell 2.9 percent in December from a year earlier, while the jobless rate was steady at 3.3 percent.

Japan remains on the brink of escaping deflation: Core inflation excluding volatile food prices was flat at 0.1 percent in December, though excluding both food and energy the consumer price index was 0.8 percent in December and 1 percent for all of 2015.