Bank of Japan eases further to support economy (by Lisa Twaronite)
TOKYO (MarketWatch) -- The Bank of Japan's policy board voted 8-1 on Monday to expand the central bank's asset-buying program by 5 trillion yen ($61 billion), to ¥40 trillion. The move is aimed at "pre-empting a deterioration in business sentiment and an increase in risk aversion in financial markets from adversely affecting economic activity," the BOJ said in a statement. It kept its key rate on hold at 0-0.1% by a unanimous decision, as it was widely expected to do even before last week's 9.0-magnitude earthquake and tsunami devastated Japan's northeast coast. The central bank maintained its assessment that "Japan's economy is emerging from the current deceleration phase," but warned that "production is likely to decline" after the disaster. Policy makers were also concerned that "the sentiment of firms and households might deteriorate."