BOJ offers $78 billion to firms hurt by pandemic in first phase of loan programme

FILE PHOTO: A man wearing a protective mask walks past the headquarters of Bank of Japan amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan, May 22, 2020.REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

TOKYO (Reuters) - The Bank of Japan on Wednesday offered 8.28 trillion yen ($77.74 billion) in loans to financial institutions under a new lending programme aimed at channeling funds to cash-strapped firms hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-month loans will be extended on Thursday through Dec. 25, the central bank said.

Wednesday’s market operation was the first to be offered since the BOJ combined several facilities in May to create a single lending programme aimed at pumping money to pandemic-hit firms via financial institutions.

The central bank has said it expects the amount of money to be pumped out via the programme to eventually reach 110 trillion yen.

The BOJ eased monetary policy in March and April, pledging to buy more assets, gobble up unlimited amounts of government debt and create lending facilities to channel money to firms.

The number of participants surged to 180 from just 18 in March, after the BOJ decided to pay a 0.1% interest to financial institutions that tapped the programme - effectively subsidising them for taking up loans from the central bank.

Reporting by Leika Kihara; Editing by Jacqueline Wong