Japan megabank profits down as BoJ stimulus threatens bottom line

TOKYO : Japan’s biggest banks tumbled in Tokyo share trading on Monday as a drop in their latest earnings was compounded by fears that the Bank of Japan’s new stimulus measures would hit their bottom line.

Shares in the trio Mitsubishi UFJ, Sumitomo Mitsui Financial Group and Mizuho Financial Group suffered a sell-off after the central bank on Friday unveiled plans to effectively charge lenders on some deposits.

The negative interest rate policy is intended to increase lending to people and businesses in order to kick start the world’s number three economy and fend off

The idea is to give commercial banks an incentive not to park their cash at the central bank. But the move threatens to weigh on bank profits, analysts said, as they battle to drive up lending at home.

Some analysts saw the BOJ bid as a desperate move after three years of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s big-spending and monetary easing policy known as “Abenomics”. This had limited impact on the moribund economy.

“While banks potentially benefit along with the rest of the economy from Friday’s valiant attempt by the BoJ to rescue Abenomics, in the short and medium term the sector seems likely to face substantial downward earnings pressure,” David Threadgold, analyst at Keefe, Bruyette & Woods, said in a commentary.

He added that the banking unit of Japan Post was most at risk owing to the size of its domestic business.


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