BOJ maintains ultra-low interest rates amid stagnant inflation, upgrades growth forecast

TOKYO (Xinhua) – The Bank of Japan (BOJ) yesterday opted to maintain its ultra-low interest rates and upgraded its economic forecasts despite a backdrop of largely stagnant inflation, well below the bank’s lofty two per cent target.

Japan’s central bank voted to keep unchanged its short-term interest rate at minus 0.1 per cent and guide long-term yields at close to zero per cent.

The BOJ, at the conclusion of its two-day policy setting meeting, also opted to continue with its massive asset purchasing program.

The bank’s latest outlook report saw the BOJ raise its growth forecast for fiscal 2019 through March from 0.6 per cent projected in October, after the government’s stimulus package to deal with the negative fallout from of the October 1 consumption tax hike, to 0.8 per cent.

The central bank here also upwardly revised its forecasts of rises in real gross domestic product for fiscal 2020 and 2021 from 0.7 per cent and 1.0 per cent, to 0.9 per cent and 1.1 per cent respectively, the report also showed.

In addition, for each of the three years through fiscal 2021, the BOJ lowered its inflation forecast by 0.1 point.

The bank said it now forecasts core consumer prices to increase 0.6 per cent in fiscal 2019, 1.0 per cent in fiscal 2020 and 1.4 per cent in fiscal 2021, with the figures still coming in well below the BOJ’s lofty price stability goal of two per cent.

As for the BOJ board’s vote yesterday, the concluding day of its two-day policy setting meeting, the Policy Board voted 7-2 to keep its monetary policy unchanged.