BOJ votes 8-1 to keep monetary policy steady

CNBC with Reuters

The Bank of Japan (BOJ) held off on further stimulus at its policy meeting on Friday, instead reiterating its pledge to increase its monetary base at an annual rate of 80 trillion yen ($660 billion).

Base money represents cash and deposits held by the central bank, which it expands by buying government bonds and risk assets.

The BOJ said that the decision was made in an eight-to-one vote.

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At a press conference following the meeting, BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said there were no proposals at Thursday's meeting to ease monetary policy.

He added that while the timing for achieving the inflation target has been delayed, it was largely due to the effect of energy price falls.

"We've said two years is the time frame we have in mind when we say we will aim to achieve our inflation target at the earliest date possible," Kuroda said. "We won't hesitate to make necessary policy adjustments if we judge that there is a change in the broad price trend."

The bank has not expanded its stimulus program since last October, even as falling oil prices and weaker exports, particularly to a slowing China, made it more difficult for Japan to reach the BOJ's 2 percent inflation target.

Kuroda has argued in the past that the tight job market, by pushing up wages and thus consumer spending, would be sufficient to boost inflation. The governor has noted that consumer prices were trending steadily when energy and food were excluded.

Economists were split on whether the BOJ would pull the policy-easing trigger on Friday, although market bets leaned toward no action after a string of recent positive data.

Factory production rose 1.0 percent in September after two straight month of falls, data showed on Thursday, as robust U.S. and domestic demand for cars and cosmetics made up for weak machinery demand in China.

Core consumer prices fell 0.1 percent in the year to September, a second monthly decline, while household spending slid 1.3 percent from a year earlier.

BOJ officials have said economic conditions are much better than last October, when it surprised markets by easing policy after consumption took a direct hit from a sales tax hike, and companies were in no mood to raise wages.

Read More IMF: Japan needs sales tax hike for fiscal sustainability

The Nikkei was down 0.6 percent at 18,820.92 in early afternoon trade after the monetary policy announcement, compared with the morning close of 18,907.60. The Topix dropped 0.3 percent to 1,542.81 and the JPX-Nikkei Index 400 slipped 0.2 percent to 13,862.40.

The dollar slipped 0.3 percent against the yen to 120.72, dipping to as low 120.29, as traders who had speculated that the BOJ would ease policy pared their bets post-announcement.

Hiromichi Shirakawa, chief economist at Credit Suisse Securities Japan, said the BOJ was likely to wait to see whether the U.S. Federal Reserve hiked rates in December before making a move on easing, adding that the BOJ was most likely to act in April, not January.

- Reuters contributed to this report.