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BoJ holds fire on stimulus, says economy recovering

21 november 2013, 18:12
The Bank of Japan on Thursday held off announcing any fresh measures to stimulate the economy, saying it was "recovering moderately" and that efforts to stoke inflation were taking hold, AFP reports.

The central bank's decision, after a two-day meeting, to hold steady on monetary easing comes despite a significant slowdown in growth in the July-September quarter.

The BoJ unveiled its vast asset-buying scheme in April as part of a broader plan by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to reinvigorate the economy and eradicate deflation with a policy blitz dubbed Abenomics.

"Japan's economy has been recovering moderately," the bank said in a statement.

"The year-on-year rate of increase in the CPI (consumer price index) is likely to rise gradually."

Reversing years of falling prices is a key goal of the BoJ's easing plan, with the bank aiming for 2.0 percent inflation in two years. Analysts, however, have been increasingly sceptical of that ambitious timeline.

The bank has been ratcheting up its economic growth outlook, with its most recent forecast predicting an average 2.7 percent expansion in the year to next March, with inflation at 0.7 percent.

Inflation is tipped at 1.9 percent within about two years, the BoJ said last month.

Last week, official data showed economic growth halved year-on-year in the July-September quarter as exports weakened and consumer spending slowed.

Despite its upbeat outlook, the BoJ on Thursday acknowledged headwinds from overseas could throw its predictions off course.

"There remains a high degree of uncertainty concerning Japan's economy, including the prospects for the European debt problem ... and the pace of recovery in the US economy," it said.

The central bank added it remained open to further easing measures if necessary.

We "will examine both upside and downside risks to economic activity and prices, and make adjustments as appropriate", it said.

BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda will hold a press conference later Thursday.

Analysts have been warning that Tokyo's bold programme -- a mix of big government spending and central bank monetary easing -- is not enough on its own to stoke lasting growth without promised economic reforms.

Critics of Abe's policy say growth so far is largely thanks to stimulus spending and the BoJ's injections of vast sums of money into the financial system, similar to the US Federal Reserve's quantitative easing.

Some analysts argue the BoJ will have to usher in more monetary easing at some point to shore up Tokyo's efforts.

The bank's meeting comes a day after minutes from the Federal Reserve's October policy meeting indicated it would cut its bond-buying "in coming months".

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