* BOJ buyback operations fail to provide much support
* Investors eye Japan life insurer investment plans
By Lisa Twaronite
TOKYO, April 24 Japanese government bonds
slipped on Wednesday as surging stocks stoked risk sentiment,
with the yield curve steepening as the superlong tenor
The Bank of Japan's latest round of purchases under its
massive new stimulus scheme failed to provide much support.
The BOJ offered to buy 500 billion yen ($5.03 billion) in
JGBs outright, with residual maturities of more than 5 years and
up to 10 years, and another 500 billion yen with residual
maturities of more than 1 year and up to 5 years.
"The operation expectations drive the market on both sides,
and although volatility has come down quite a bit, especially in
the medium-term sector, still some concerns remain for the
superlong-term tenor," said Maki Shimizu, senior strategist at
Citigroup in Tokyo.
"The BOJ will eventually absorb up to the 10-year sector, to
a significant degree, but what's a concern is which of the
superlong tenors will be bought back, because the operation
scheme is still not very detailed," she said.
The yield on benchmark 10-year bonds rose 1
basis point to 0.595 percent. The 10-year futures contract
edged down 0.06 point to 144.61, losing its grip on
earlier gains as the Nikkei share average jumped 2.3
percent to its highest level in nearly five years.
Market participants continued to scan the investment plans
of Japanese life insurance companies for any signs they might
shift their allocations to foreign bonds from JGBs as the BOJ
doubles its bond holdings over two years under its easing plan.
On Wednesday, an executive at Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance
Co, Japan's third-largest private life insurer, said it is
taking a cautious stance on JGBs, and that it plans to buy
around 500 billion yen of foreign bonds in the fiscal year that
began this month.
An official at Asahi Mutual Life Insurance said it will also
be more cautious about buying Japanese bonds this fiscal year
and will seek opportunities to buy foreign bonds on dips.
The BOJ will update its forecasts after its policy meeting
While no major policy steps are expected at the meeting,
investors will be watching for any operational tweaks to the
central bank's asset-buying programme, and also whether BOJ
Governor Haruhiko Kuroda's two-year time frame to hit a 2
percent inflation target will become the bank's official
Analysts say such a prediction might be too optimistic, and
could put the bank's credibility on the line. Most analysts
polled by Reuters after the BOJ's policy meeting on April 4 said
the BOJ will not be able to achieve its inflation target within
The superlong sector underperformed, as the BOJ refrained
from any buying in that tenor this time. The 20-year yield
added 3.5 basis points to 1.480 percent, while
the 30-year yield rose 2.5 basis points to 1.600
"The JGB market is making relatively small moves, on
supply/demand factors as investors adjust their portfolios, and
these conditions could continue through the Golden Week
holidays," said a fixed income fund manager at a European asset
management firm in Tokyo.
Tokyo markets will be closed for holidays on April 29, and
then on May 3 and May 6.