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[TOKYO] Bank of Japan Governor Haruhiko Kuroda said on Friday he had no plan to expand monetary stimulus now, blaming sharp declines in oil costs for keeping consumer inflation distant from the bank's ambitious 2 per cent target.
While he maintained his optimistic view of the economy, Kuroda stressed his resolve to ease monetary policy further if risks threaten achievement of the BOJ's price target. "The underlying price trend is improving steadily," Mr Kuroda told parliament, expressing hope that record corporate revenues and a tightening labour market will gradually push up wages. "I don't have plans for further monetary easing at the moment. But we're ready to adjust policy without hesitation if there is any change in the broad price trend," he added.
The BOJ is expected to cut its quarterly inflation forecasts and push back the timing for hitting its price target at a rate review on Jan. 28-29, as slumping energy costs weigh on price growth. Core consumer prices rose just 0.1 per cent in the year to November.
Mr Kuroda has said the BOJ will look through the effect of oil price falls on inflation, and ease policy only if economic conditions worsen enough to discourage firms from boosting wages and capital expenditure.
Some market players speculate the BOJ may expand stimulus this month, though many analysts polled by Reuters expect the bank to wait until later this year.