The Bank of Japan kept interest rates unchanged today. Bloomberg reports:
Governor Toshihiko Fukui and his policy board colleagues voted unanimously to hold the key overnight lending rate at 0.5 percent, the lowest among major economies, the bank said in a statement today in Tokyo. The decision was expected by all 49 economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.
Fukui later told reporters that the U.S. economy will achieve a soft landing and Japan's consumer prices will rise in the long run after hovering around zero percent in coming months...
Demand may be picking up at home, too. Spending among Japanese households rose in the first two months of 2007 after declining every month last year. Economic and Fiscal Policy Minister Hiroko Ota told reporters today that consumption is showing "brighter signs," though wages need to increase more.
No excitement there. Developments next door were a little more interesting. Again from Bloomberg:
[China's March trade surplus] was $6.87 billion... 38 percent smaller than a year earlier, the least in 13 months, and below the $20 billion median estimate of a Bloomberg survey of economists...
Exports gained 6.9 percent to $83.4 billion in March, the slowest pace in five years, and imports climbed 14.5 percent to $76.6 billion.
The reason for the plunge?
Chinese businesses rushed to sell products overseas in January and February in anticipation of government measures to slow exports and because of protectionist sentiment abroad, said Wang Qing, an economist at Bank of America Corp. in Hong Kong.