As we suspected, the Bank of Japan was the more interesting of the two central bank meetings, with the decision to take no further policy action prompting a sharp reaction in financial markets, pushing the Yen much higher and equity markets lower. With inflation falling further from target and the Japanese economy close to a technical recession, this was a blow to widespread expectations of further stimulus. Governor Kuroda defended his actions, stating that the BoJ wanted time to assess the impact of their recent decision to impose negative interest rates before deciding on yet another round of stimulus. Attention will now turn to the impending G7 meeting in May, which is being hosted by Japan, and the possibility of a final hurrah for Abenomics.’
In contrast, the US Federal Reserve came and went without major incident and the statement released after their meeting was in line with our expectations. The FOMC appeared happier with steadier financial markets, but somewhat concerned about the recent run of softer than expected economic data releases, with the notable exception of a strong labour market. Market participants continue to put just a 20% probability of an interest rate increase in June but this is likely to change materially in the coming days as the latest GDP release and survey data will bring fresh perspective to the outlook.
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