* Tokyo Feb core CPI rises 2.5% yr/yr, matching forecast

* Index excluding fresh food, fuel rises 3.1% yr/yr in Feb

* Unfazed by recession, BOJ seen eyeing near-term stimulus exit

TOKYO, March 5 (Reuters) - Core consumer prices in Japan's capital rose 2.5% in February from a year earlier, data showed on Tuesday, re-accelerating from the previous month in a sign conditions for ending negative interest rates were gradually falling into place.

The data will be among factors the Bank of Japan (BOJ) will scrutinise ahead of its policy-setting meeting on March 18-19 in judging whether to phase out its massive stimulus programme.

The increase in the core consumer price index (CPI) in Tokyo, a leading indicator of nationwide figures that strips away the effect of volatile fresh food prices, matched a median market forecast and followed a 1.8% rise in January.

A separate index that excludes the effect of both fresh food and fuel costs, rose 3.1% in February from a year earlier, slowing from a 3.3% gain in January, government data showed.

Japan unexpectedly slipped into a recession at the end of last year with the economy shrinking an annualised 0.4% in October-December on weak corporate and household spending.

But with inflation having exceeded 2% for well over a year and prospects for bumper wage hikes heightening, many market players expect the BOJ to end its negative interest rate policy by April.

BOJ Governor Kazuo Ueda said last week that it was too early to conclude that inflation was close to sustainably meeting the central bank's 2% target. But he said the economy was recovering moderately and showing promising signs on the wage outlook.

In an effort to reflate growth and keep inflation stably at its 2% inflation target, the BOJ currently guides short-term rates at -0.1% and the 10-year government bond yield around 0%. (Reporting by Takahiko Wada and Leika Kihara. Editing by Sam Holmes)