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Economy

Additional BOJ easing expected in first half

TOKYO -- More than 80% of currency specialists expect further monetary easing by the Bank of Japan this year, according to a recent survey by QUICK, a financial information service provider. Many respondents said the central bank will likely take another step in the first half of the year.

     The Nikkei Inc. group company surveyed 208 currency experts working at banks, brokerages and other financial institutions as well as nonfinancial companies on Feb. 8-10. Valid answers were obtained from 37% of them.   

     The BOJ decided at its policy board meeting in late January to introduce negative interest rates on a certain portion of commercial banks' deposits at the central bank. 

     Since then, the yield on 10-year Japanese government bonds as well as the overnight interbank rate have sunk into negative territory. The yen, however, began to climb and stock prices plunged, thumbing their nose at the BOJ.

     Asked whether the BOJ will make further adjustments this year, 83% of the respondents said they expect additional easing, while 13% said there would be no further moves. Among those who expect additional easing, 30% predicted the central bank would move in April. June was the next most frequent response, at 24%, followed by March, at 21%. Thus, more than 70% of those who expect further easing think the BOJ will act in the first half of 2016.

     This year, the BOJ's policy board is scheduled to meet seven more times. The next meeting takes place on March 14-15. 

     Respondents were asked to pick a possible method for additional easing among three options, with multiple answers allowed. The most popular answer was driving the interest rate further into negative territory, at 73%, followed by more qualitative easing, at 48% and additional quantitative easing, at 39%. 

     "The BOJ's introduction of negative rates brought about an adverse effect -- an anxiety over banks' earnings -- before pushing up inflation rates," said a brokerage official who responded to the survey. "It is becoming more likely that the central bank will be forced to decide on additional easing in March."

(Nikkei)

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