TOKYO, Dec 21 (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan kept monetary policy steady on Thursday despite growing signs of strength in the economy, signalling that it was in no rush to edge away from crisis-mode stimulus with inflation still distant from its 2 percent target.
The central bank revised up its assessment of private consumption and capital expenditure, underscoring its conviction that recovery in the world’s third largest economy was gathering momentum.
Following are comments from BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda at his post-meeting news conference:
”We expect Japan’s economy to continue expanding gradually. It’s true inflation, while accelerating somewhat, has remained weak despite an expanding economy and tightening job market.
”We expect companies’ price-setting behaviour to gradually strengthen ahead. That will help push up inflation expectations and accelerate inflation.
“It’s true there are various risks, mostly from overseas economies, so we must watch them carefully. But we expect the steady economic recovery in 2017 to continue into next year.”
”We don’t think there is any problem emerging in Japan’s financial intermediation.
”We made clear in our comprehensive assessment last September that we will guide the yield curve to the most appropriate shape looking comprehensively at various factors, including financial conditions. We haven’t made any changes to that idea since then.
“I referred to an academic concept called reversal rates in my speech. But that doesn’t mean we think there is a need to review or change our current policy framework.”
ON BOJ‘S ETF BUYING PROGRAMME
“Our ETF buying is part of our policy framework ... It is playing a big role in pushing down the risk premium. We’re not purchasing ETFs to target a specific stock price level or push up stock prices. We’re doing this to achieve 2 percent inflation at the earliest date possible.”
ON WHETHER YIELD CURVE TARGETS NEED FINE-TUNING
“Our most important goal is to achieve our 2 percent inflation target at the earliest date possible ... We won’t raise rates just because the economy is improving. We will look at this from the perspective of achieving our price target.”
“I don’t think we need to change the shape of the yield curve now.”
“It’s not functioning as a payment and settlement means yet. It’s mostly traded for speculative purposes. I don’t see bitcoin as disrupting our monetary policy ... It’s not having any impact on monetary policy.”
“That’s not for me to decide. But when you look at the charts, it’s true the pace of its rise is abnormal.”
“Regional banks work closely with their regional community. On the other hand, their businesses span beyond their prefectures ... If consolidation enhances efficiency and improves services, it would be a desirable thing.” (Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Eric Meijer and Sam Holmes)