The Bank of Japan released the minutes of its December 19 and 19 monetary policy board meeting. At that time, the BoJ left its official interest rate range at zero to 0.1 percent. The BoJ board decided by an 8 to 1 vote to leave the bank's policy target unchanged. Board member Takahide Kiuchi remained opposed to the October 31 easing. The board maintained its cautious growth and inflation outlook adopted nearly two months earlier.
Faced with slowing inflation, the monetary policy board agreed that it was important to examine the underlying trend in prices through developments in the output gap of the economy, inflation expectations and wages. One member said that the primary focus should be on the underlying trend in prices when considering the future conduct of monetary policy, and that the key was developments in inflation expectations in a broad context. Many members said that there had been steady progress in the conversion of the deflation mindset despite the further drop in crude oil prices and the decline in the actual inflation rate.
Minutes follow monetary policy board meetings with a four to five week lag. For example, minutes released on June 19 were for the meeting held on May 21 and May 22.
Investors who want a more detailed description of Bank of Japan opinions will generally read the minutes closely. The MPB may issue a statement after its monthly meeting but the minutes will be much more detailed. In particular they will reveal who voted for and against the Committee's decisions and provide a more detailed description of the MPB's thinking. As such, the minutes are a market mover as analysts parse each word looking for clues to future policy.
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