Bank of Japan to hold emergency policy meeting on Monday

TOKYO (REUTERS) – The Bank of Japan called an emergency meeting on Monday (March 16) to discuss steps to stabilise markets, hours after unscheduled rate cuts by US and New Zealand central banks, as policymakers ramp up efforts to combat the widening fallout of the coronavirus.

The meeting, to be held from 12pm (11am Singapore time), will replace the scheduled rate review on March 18-19, the BOJ said in a statement released on Monday. BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda is expected to hold a news conference after the meeting.

At Monday’s meeting, the central bank’s nine-member board will likely discuss measures to smooth corporate financing and stabilise financial markets, a source familiar with its thinking said.

The BOJ’s review comes in the wake of the US Federal Reserve’s emergency 100-basis point rate cut to near zero on Sunday, which was followed hours later by an unexpected 75 basis point easing by the New Zealand central bank, underscoring policymakers’ worries of a world economy unraveling rapidly amid the epidemic.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said the government will work closely with the BOJ to take “bold, unprecedented” measures to mitigate the pain the epidemic is inflicting on the world’s third-largest economy.

Sources have told Reuters the BOJ was ready to expand monetary stimulus by ramping up asset purchases and take steps to ensure small and midsize companies to not face a shortage of funds ahead of the March 31 fiscal year-end.

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