BOJ's assets hit record, ETF holdings surge on efforts to ease pandemic hit

TOKYO, Nov 26 (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan’s total balance of assets hit a new record in the fiscal first half from April to September as it pumped money aggressively into the economy to cushion the blow from the coronavirus pandemic, its balance sheet data showed on Thursday.

The central bank held a total of 690 trillion yen ($6.6 trillion) in assets as of end-September, up 21% from a year ago and nearly 1.3 times the size of Japan’s economy.

The increase was largely due to the introduction in March through May of a range of lending schemes aimed at easing corporate funding strains caused by the pandemic.

Loans extended during April-September more than doubled from year-before levels at 105 trillion yen, the data showed.

The BOJ’s holdings of exchange-traded funds (ETF) also rose to a record 34 trillion yen, as it accelerated purchases when markets took a hit from the spread of COVID-19.

The ETF holdings booked unrealised profits of 5.8 trillion yen, the second largest on record, thanks to a rebound in the stock market later in the year, the data showed.

The BOJ eased policy twice this year, mainly by ramping up asset purchases and creating a scheme aimed at funneling funds to cash-strapped firms hit by COVID-19.

$1 = 104.2600 yen Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Toby Chopra