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Stocks

Japan's central bank nearly doubles ETF holdings in one year

Purchases are timed to stabilize stock prices

The Bank of Japan building in Tokyo.

TOKYO -- The Bank of Japan has stepped up purchases of exchange-traded funds as part of its monetary easing policy, with the balance surging to 15.93 trillion yen ($144 billion) as of March 31.

The total marks an 80% rise from a year earlier and more than a sevenfold increase since the central bank kicked off its quantitative and qualitative easing -- adding riskier assets to its balance sheet -- in April 2013. ETF purchases have gradually increased under the unconventional policy, expanding to 6 trillion yen a year in July 2016 from 3.3 trillion yen.

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