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Bank of Japan maintains monetary policy in final meeting of 2019

Bank of Japan kept its monetary policy unchanged Dec. 19, in line with market expectations, saying it will continue expanding its monetary base until inflation exceeds its 2% target.

In a 7-2 vote, policymakers at the central bank kept the short-term policy rate at negative 0.1% and pledged to continue purchasing Japanese government bonds to keep 10-year yields at around zero percent.

Bank of Japan again said it "will not hesitate to take additional easing measures" to ensure that inflation keeps moving toward the target, as downside risks from abroad, including Brexit and global trade tensions, "seem to remain significant."

The central bank also reiterated that it expects short- and long-term interest rates to "remain at their present or lower levels as long as it is necessary" in order to keep inflation from veering away from its target.

The bank expects the Japanese economy to grow moderately amid a global slowdown and domestic demand to gradually increase. It noted that exports have continued to show weakness, while industrial production has declined recently, partly on the back of natural disasters.

Bank of Japan board member Makoto Sakurai said Nov. 27 that the bank does not need to introduce additional stimulus measures at the moment and should rather assess the negative impact of prolonged easing on the economy.

The yen barely moved against the dollar following the decision, standing at ¥109.57 as of 11 p.m. Tokyo time on Dec. 19.