Bank of Japan cuts annual inflation forecasts

Bank of Japan cuts annual inflation forecasts

All eyes are on Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda's comments to reporters to see if he hints at a timeline for easing off the bank's record stimulus plan. (Photo: AFP/Saul Loeb)
TOKYO: Japan's central bank cut its annual inflation forecast on Tuesday (Oct 31) but kept its ultra-loose monetary policy unchanged, as its overseas counterparts start turning off the stimulus taps.The BoJ slashed its inflation forecast to 0.8 per cent for the fiscal year through March 2018 from an earlier 1.1 per cent estimate and also slightly trimmed its projection for the following year to 1.4 per cent.But the central bank maintained its 2.0-per cent inflation target - seen as crucial in a long battle against deflation that is blamed for holding back the once-booming economy - as separate data Tuesday showed household spending and factory output edged down in September.Japan's inflation rate came in at 0.7 per cent in September."The consumer price index has continued to show relatively weak developments - mainly against the background that firms' wage- and price-setting stance has remained cautious," the central bank said in a statement after its latest meeting.The bank's widely expected decision came days after the European Central Bank took the first step towards ending years of massive support to the eurozone economy.
Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve, which has also started to wind down its crisis-era stimulus, is widely expected to go ahead with a third interest rate hike in December.All eyes are now on BoJ governor Haruhiko Kuroda's comments to reporters later Tuesday to see if he hints at a timeline for easing off the bank's record stimulus plan.The BoJ expects to achieve its inflation objective sometime in the year to March 2020.Officials had originally set in 2013 a two-year timeline when unveiling the bank's massive monetary easing programme as part of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's push to kickstart growth in the world's number-three economy, dubbed Abenomics.
Earlier Tuesday, government figures showed household spending and factory output edged down in September, suggesting a rockier-than-expected recovery for the economy.Japan's prospects have recently improved, however, with investments linked to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics giving growth a shot in the arm.Japan's economy expanded by 0.6 per cent in the April-June period, notching up its sixth straight quarter of growth, the longest economic expansion in more than a decade.However, wage hikes have been tepid and Tokyo has struggled to beat years of deflation.Falling prices can discourage spending by consumers, who might postpone purchases until prices drop more or they might save money instead.
That puts pressure on businesses, creating a cycle in which firms then cut back on expanding production, hiring new workers or boosting wages.
The BoJ had hoped consumers would spend more if prices were rising, persuading firms to expand operations and getting the economy humming. But wage growth has fallen below expectations and workers have less money to spend as a result. 
Source: AFP/ec
 Source : http://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/business/bank-of-japan-cuts-annual-inflation-forecasts-9360970