23 January 2003, 09:43  BOJ Says Output And Exports Leveling Off, Keeping Assessment

Tokyo, Jan. 23 (Bloomberg) -- Japan's exports and industrial output are leveling off, the central bank said in a monthly report, keeping unchanged its assessment of the economy for a second straight month. ``There is still substantial uncertainty about the prospects for a recovery,'' the Bank of Japan said. ``Exports and industrial production are expected to be more or less unchanged for the immediate future.'' The bank released the report a day after its policy makers decided to hold off from expanding monthly bond purchases to inject extra cash into the economy, one of few options left for the bank to shore up the economy. The government last week lowered its monthly evaluation for a third straight month, saying the economy has ``weakened'' and may slow more as stocks slump and the global growth stagnate.
The bank also said it's necessary to keep a close watch on stock prices and the impact on the stock market of the disposal of bad loans at Japanese banks. In today's report, the central bank also said that Japanese prices will keep falling at a gradual pace because of weak demand. Hayami has promised to keep interest rates close to zero until Japan's nationwide consumer prices stop falling from year-earlier levels. The bank also said it expects M2 plus certificates of deposit, Japan's key money supply index, to expand about two percent in the period from January through March compared with the same period last year. //www.quote.bloomberg.com

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