In a significant financial development, the Nikkei, Japan’s premier stock index, surged to an eight-month high, driven by the Bank of Japan’s (BOJ) decision to sustain its ultra-easy monetary policy. The central bank’s move, along with a series of robust domestic earnings, bolstered market sentiment, propelling the Nikkei to its highest level since August 19. The index recorded a peak of 28,879.24 before closing slightly lower at 28,856.44, a notable gain of 1.4% for the day.
The broader Topix index followed suit, finishing 1.23% higher at 2,057.48, its strongest standing since March 9. Concurrently, the yen depreciated by as much as 0.83% to just over 135 per dollar. This currency dynamic, in turn, bolstered Japanese exporters’ shares, particularly within the automobile industry.
However, the banking sector bore the brunt of the BOJ’s decision, reversing morning gains of up to 2.64% to losses as deep as 2.41%. The expectation that low rates will persistently erode lending profits for an extended period was the main driver behind this fall. As anticipated, the BOJ retained its short-term interest rate target at -0.1% and set the 10-year bond yield around 0%, pledging to “patiently” continue with stimulus measures.
The BOJ’s announcement of a “broad-perspective” review of its monetary policy, projected to last up to 1-1/2 years, implies no urgency to normalize settings. “The main message is that the BOJ will consider a change in monetary policy, but it will take a longer time,” commented Masayuki Kichikawa, chief macro strategist at Sumitomo Mitsui Asset Management. This stance has caused some market volatility. Despite the banking index being the poorest performer among Tokyo Stock Exchange’s 33 industry groups, its losses had substantially reduced to just 0.28% by the close.