BOJ Said to Mull Moderating Inflation View as Oil Falls

The Bank of Japan will consider moderating its language on inflation in a report this week to take account of the impact of lower oil prices, according to people familiar with central bank’s discussions.

The central bank may tone down or abandon its assessment that consumer-price gains are likely to “follow a rising trend again from the second half of this fiscal year,” according to the people who asked not to be named because the talks were private. Some officials see the potential for the BOJ to cut its inflation projections for the year through March and the following fiscal year, the people said.

While this adds to signs of waning momentum in the world’s third-biggest economy, the people said the effects of the 21 percent slump in oil prices since June are likely to pass. This will allow the BOJ to maintain its view that inflation is likely to hit its 2 percent target around the middle of the year starting in April 2015, they said.

“It’s inevitable for the BOJ to cut its inflation outlook for the near future given the plunge in oil prices,” JPMorgan Chase and Co. analysts led by Masaaki Kanno wrote in a report dated yesterday. The central may also need to admit defeat as early as January on the two-year time frame it set for reaching 2 percent inflation, according to the note.

Governor Haruhiko Kuroda and the board will keep monetary policy unchanged at a meeting on Oct. 31, according to 29 of 32 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News. It’s set to announce its semi-annual outlook on the economy and prices the same day.

Growth Forecast

The central bank may cut its growth forecast for this fiscal year as exports fail to bolster an economy weakened by April’s sales-tax increase, people familiar with the BOJ’s discussions said in August.

Its forecast for real economic growth for the year through March may be cut 0.6 percent from 1 percent, the Nikkei reported today, without citing anyone.

The BOJ is trying to push inflation excluding fresh food -- its main gauge -- to 2 percent through unprecedented easing that Kuroda began in April last year. Core consumer prices rose 1.1 percent in August, excluding the effects of an increase in the sales tax earlier this year.

Kuroda on Oct. 17 said inflation would pick up again in the second half of this fiscal year after staying around 1.25 percent for some time, a view the central bank outlined in its April outlook report.

Fuel Costs

Twenty-seven of 32 economists in the Bloomberg survey see a decline in oil prices making it harder for the central bank to achieve the inflation target, with 10 saying the drop increases chances of additional monetary stimulus.

Kuroda this month pointed to the boost to Japan’s economy over the longer term from cheaper oil.

“Japan imports massive amount of oil so falling oil prices itself is a plus for the economy as it improves the terms of trade and increases real income,” Kuroda said at a press conference in Washington on Oct. 10.

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