Japan ETFs Receive a Helping Hand from BOJ

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This article was originally published on ETFTrends.com.

In response to the rising yen and global trade war fears, the Bank of Japan bought the largest amount of ETFs on record last month, stabilizing Japanese equity markets.

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The BOJ revealed it bought 833 billion yen, or $7.82 billion, in ETFs in March, the largest monthly purchase since the central bank started purchasing ETFs in the end of 2010 as part of its quantitative and qualitative easing program to ease the economy out of deflation, Reuters reports.

The central bank has accumulated 1.9 trillion yen in ETFs over the first three months of the year, or about 30% of its annual purchase goal. The annual acquisition target is 6 trillion yen.

Related: One of the Least Expensive Japan ETFs: JPN

The recent buying spree may be a way for the BOJ to stabilize and support its local markets, especially as the yen currency strengthened on the sudden bout of global market volatility and escalating trade war speculation that pushed investors toward safe-haven bets - the Japanese yen has traditionally acted as a safe play in global markets.

BOJ Likely to Maintain Buying

“In terms of high stock prices and high valuations, risk premium is low now compared to the beginning of ‘Abenomics’ so we can assume that the BOJ is ready for tapering. But the central bank seems to have a different idea,” Yoshinori Shigemi, global market strategist at JPMorgan Asset Management, told Reuters. “The market will likely continue seeing high volatility for the time being, so the BOJ is likely to keep up with the current purchase pace for a while.”

The support in Japanese equities could also help bolster Japan-related ETFs, such as the iShares MSCI Japan ETF (NYSEArca: EWJ), Xtrackers Japan JPX-Nikkei 400 Equity ETF (NYSEArca: JPN) and iShares JPX-Nikkei 400 ETF (NYSEArca: JPXN).

The BOJ has been buying alternative index-based funds. For instance, the central bank has acquired Japan-listed ETFs that track the JPX-Nikkei 400 Index, which also serves as the underlying benchmark for JPN and JPXN.

Related: 3 Japan ETFs Look Like Bargain Picks

The JPX-Nikkei 400 Index was launched in January 2014 as a means of reinvigorating the Japanese equity market. The JPX-Nikkei 400 Index employs a rigorous screening process based on return on equity, cumulative operating profit and market capitalization to select high-quality, capital-efficient Japanese companies.

For more information on the Japanese markets, visit our Japan category.

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