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Bank of Japan cuts growth forecast, unveils outline of climate scheme

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TOKYO: The Bank of Japan (BOJ) cut this fiscal year’s growth forecast on Friday (Jul 16) but maintained its view the economy was headed for a moderate recovery, a sign monetary policy will be in a holding pattern for some time.

The BOJ also released an outline of its new scheme aimed at boosting funding for activities combating climate change, which will offer banks long-term loans at zero interest.

The climate scheme will be launched this year and last until fiscal 2030.

READ: Japan insurers struggle to pinpoint climate change cost estimates

The BOJ will offer funds to banks that extend green and sustainability-linked loans, as well as invest in green bonds and sustainability-linked bonds. Transition finance loans will also be applicable for the scheme.

The BOJ said it will not pay any interest incentives to banks that tap the scheme.

In fresh quarterly projections released on Friday, the BOJ said it expects the economy to expand 3.8 per cent in the current fiscal year ending in March 2022, down from 4.0 per cent projected in April.

But it revised up its growth forecast for next fiscal year to 2.7 per cent from 2.4 per cent on expectations that consumption will pick up as vaccinations accelerate.

“Japan’s economy is likely to improve … as the pandemic’s impact gradually subsides due to progress in vaccinations,” the BOJ said in a quarterly report.

“But the outlook is highly uncertain as domestic and overseas economies could be swayed by developments regarding the pandemic,” it said.

READ: Bank of Japan to launch new scheme for fighting climate change, keeps policy steady

As widely expected, the central bank left its yield curve control (YCC) target unchanged at -0.1 per cent for short-term interest rates and 0 per cent for 10-year bond yields at its two-day rate review that ended on Friday.

The BOJ sharply revised up its consumer inflation forecast for the current fiscal year to 0.6 per cent from 0.1 per cent due in large part due to recent rises in energy costs and commodities prices.

A resurgence in infections has led the government to impose a new state of emergency in Olympic host city Tokyo less than two weeks before the Games, dashing policymakers’ hope of a strong rebound in growth during the quarter.

Japan’s economy shrank an annualised 3.9 per cent in January-March and likely barely grew in the second quarter, as the pandemic took a toll on service spending.

Analysts polled by Reuters now expect the economy to grow 4.2 per cent in the current quarter, lower than an estimate they made last month, due the hit from new pandemic curbs.

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