TOKYO, Nov 19 (Reuters) - Benchmark Japanese government bonds started the week with a slightly lower tone, pressured by a weaker yen that bolstered stocks but not moving much from recent ranges as the Bank of Japan began its regular policy meeting.
* The yen dropped to its lowest level in nearly seven months, on expectations the new government will implement more fiscal stimulus and pressure the BOJ into easing further.
* Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda dissolved parliament on Friday for an election on Dec. 16, at which his ruling party is expected to fare poorly. Main opposition party leader Shinzo Abe, likely Japan’s next prime minister, has called for the country’s central bank to adopt interest rates of zero or below zero.
* The BOJ is expected to hold policy steady at the conclusion of its two-day meeting on Tuesday. It could hold off on any further stimulus steps until early next year, as it considers the policies of Japan’s next government.
* “The yen weakened today, so stocks strengthened, so JGBs weakened slightly, but mostly, the market is waiting for the BOJ meeting to be over, although nothing is expected,” said a fixed-income fund manager at a Japanese trust bank.
“The superlong tenor had just been coming back a bit, when last week Abe’s remarks sent the yield curve sharply steepening again, and there is a perception that this might be overdone,” he added.
* The 10-year JGB futures contract ended morning trade down 0.05 point at 144.65.
* In cash trading, 10-year yields rose 1 basis point to 0.735 percent, moving away from support at July’s nine-year low of 0.720 percent.
* Yields on 20-year debt and on 30-year bonds were flat at 1.680 percent and 1.950 percent, respectively.
On Friday, the yield spread between the 10- and 20-year debt rose to its highest level since 1999.
* A weekly gauge of sentiment in the Japanese government bond market worsened as investors expected that a likely change of government will lead to more aggressive monetary and fiscal stimulus steps and a steeper yield curve, a Thomson Reuters survey found on Monday.