Japan central bank expands monetary easing

TOKYO (AP) — Japan’s central bank says it is keeping its key interest rate at virtually zero and will expand the size of an asset buying program to lend stronger support to the economy.

The Bank of Japan’s policy board decided unanimously at a one-day meeting Thursday to leave the overnight call rate target at zero to 0.1 percent.

It voted 8-1 to increase its asset purchase program by 5 trillion yen to 55 trillion yen ($723 billion). It will use the extra funds to buy Japanese government bonds, hoping that further monetary easing will offset the export-sapping strong yen.

The central bank says it still expects the world’s No. 3 economy to eventually return to moderate growth.

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