October 3, 2019 / 8:37 PM / in 20 days

UPDATE 1-Bank of Japan's Wakatabe says central bank ready to act as appropriate

(Adds comment from Wakatabe)

Oct 3 (Reuters) - Bank of Japan Deputy Governor Masazumi Wakatabe on Thursday said he expects global trade tensions to persist for quite some time and said the central bank will act as appropriate to boost the economy as needed.

Trade tensions are “hitting” all economies and Japan is not exempt, Wakatabe said. It is possible trade issues may not hurt Japan, he added, but the BOJ would move to a more accommodative stance if the risks grow.

“Overall the picture is one of downside risks and uncertainty, so we are quite aware we should deal with the situation,” he said during a moderated discussion before the Japan Society in New York.

“We believe the negative interest rate policy is effective and has been helping,” he said, but added later that policy makers would like to get out of that policy as soon as possible. “We don’t want lower-for-longer to become lower for forever.”

Japan’s negative interest rate policy was introduced in 2016.

His remarks come four weeks ahead of the BOJ’s next policy meeting. The bank has signaled readiness to ease policy to address escalating global risks, including a slowdown in growth across developed economies and uncertainty arising from fractured trade relationships.

At its meeting last month, the BOJ kept its short-term rate target at -0.1% and pledged to guide 10-year Japanese government bond yields toward 0% under its yield-curve control policy, or YCC. With sovereign rates diving around the world as the growth outlook weakens, the BOJ has struggled to deliver on the YCC component of its policy, and 10-year JGB yields have drifted further into negative territory.

On Thursday they were quoted at around -0.19%; they have not been at 0% since the spring.

Last month, the government lowered its estimate for growth in the Japanese economy to an annualized rate of 1.3% in the second quarter, down from an earlier estimate of 1.8%. The downgrade helped intensify calls for the BOJ to offer more stimulus. (Reporting by Dan Burns and Jonnelle Marte Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Leslie Adler)

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