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Yen falls after Bank of Japan maintains ultra-easy policy

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Hong Kong
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The yen plunged on Wednesday after the Bank of Japan decided to maintain its ultra-easy monetary policy, defying market expectations that rising inflation could force the central bank to move away from low interest rates.

The BOJ kept its yield curve control (YCC) targets unchanged as it concluded a two-day policy meeting on Wednesday. It left the short-term interest rate at an ultra-dovish minus 0.1% and the 10-year Japanese Government Bonds (JGB) yield around 0%.

The YCC policy is a pillar of the central bank’s effort to keep interest rates low and stimulate the economy.

The surprise decision sent the yen tumbling. It briefly dropped 2.7% against the US dollar around noon. It later pared some losses, last trading 1.3% lower at 129.76 yen per dollar. Last Friday, the currency hit a seven-month high of 127.46 against the greenback.

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“Japan’s economy, despite being affected by factors such as high commodity prices, has picked up as the resumption of economic activity has progressed while public health has been protected from Covid-19,” the central bank said in its quarterly outlook report, adding that slowdowns in overseas economies could put downward pressure on growth.

BOJ changes yield curve control, jolts markets with surprise monetary policy

 

BOJ Governor Haruhiko Kuroda explained the decisionat a press conference.

“Uncertainty regarding Japan’s economy is very high. It’s necessary to support the economy with our stimulus policy, to ensure companies can raise wages,” Kuroda said in comments published by Reuters. “By maintaining ultra-easy policy, we will strive to achieve our price target stably and sustainably accompanied by wage hikes.”

Kuroda expects the core consumer inflation to slow below 2% toward the latter half of fiscal 2023.

Kuroda is due to step down in April after a decade in office.

Last month, the BOJ shocked global markets by allowing the 10-year JGB yield to move 50 basis points on either side of its 0% target, in a move that stoked speculation the central bank may follow the same direction as other major economies by allowing rates to rise further.

The unexpectedly hawkish decision caused stocks to tumble, while sending the yen and bond yields soaring.

Kuroda said there’s no need to further expand the band of the yield following December’s move.

“It’s been not long since we decided on our measures in December. It will likely take some more time for the measures to start having an effect in fixing market function. With our flexible market operations, however, we expect market function to improve ahead,” he said, according to Reuters. “YCC is, therefore, likely to be sustainable.”

Reuters contributed to reporting.

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name – Global News

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Uber brings back ride share for some Canadian cities — but under a new name  Global NewsView Full Coverage on Google News

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'Not telling us the truth': NSP customers complain utility isn't transparent about outages – CBC.ca

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‘Not telling us the truth’: NSP customers complain utility isn’t transparent about outages  CBC.caView Full Coverage on Google News

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Tiny wines find home in B.C.’s market, as Canadians consider reducing consumption

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VANCOUVER — Wine lovers have growing options on the shelf to enjoy their favourite beverage as producers in B.C. offer smaller container sizes.

Multiple British Columbia wineries over the last several years have begun offering their product in smaller, single-serve cans and bottles.

Along with making wine more attractive to those looking to toss some in a backpack or sip on the golf course, the petite containers leave wineries with options for a potential shift in mindset as Canadians discuss the health benefits of reducing alcohol consumption.

Vancouver-based wine consultant Kurtis Kolt said he’s watched the segment of the wine industry offering smaller bottles and cans “explode” over the last several years, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic when people were meeting outdoors in parks and beaches and looking for something more portable to take with them.

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“You’re not taking a hit on quality, you know? In fact, if someone is only going to be having a glass or two, you’re cracking a can and it’s completely fresh, guaranteed,” he said.

It’s also an advantage for people who want to drink less, he said.

“It’s much less of a commitment to crack open a can or a small bottle or a smaller vessel than it is to open a bottle,” he said.

“Then you have to decide how quickly you’re going to go through it or end up dumping some out if you don’t finish it.”

Last month, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction released a report funded by Health Canada saying no amount of alcohol is safe and those who consume up to two standard drinks per week face a low health risk.

That’s a significant change from the centre’s 2011 advice that said having 15 drinks per week for men and 10 drinks per week for women was low risk.

Health Canada has said it is reviewing the report.

Charlie Baessler, the managing partner at Corcelettes Estate Winery in the southern Interior, said his winery’s Santé en Cannette sparkling wine in a can was released in 2020 as a reduced alcohol, reduced sugar, low-calorie option.

“We’ve kind of gone above and beyond to attract a bit of a younger, millennial-type market segment with a fun design concept of the can and sparkling, low alcohol — all these things that have been recently a big item on the news,” he said.

Santé en Cannette is a nine per cent wine and reducing the alcohol was a way to reduce its calories, he said. The can also makes it attractive for events like a picnic or golf, is recyclable, and makes it easier for restaurants that might want to offer sparkling wine by the glass without opening an entire bottle.

At the same time, the lower alcohol content makes it an option for people who might want a glass of wine without feeling the same effect that comes from a higher alcohol content, he said.

“So the health is clearly one incentive, but I think more importantly, so was being able to enjoy a locally made product of B.C. from a boutique winery, dare I say, with a mimosa at 11 o’clock and not ruin your day,” he said.

Baessler said the winery has doubled production since the product was first released to about 30,000 cans a year, which they expect to match this year.

He said there’s naturally a market for the product but he doesn’t expect it to compete with the higher-alcohol wine.

“So this isn’t our Holy Grail. This is something that we do for fun and we’ll never compete, or never distract, from what is our core line of riper, higher-alcohol wine,” he said.

Jeff Guignard, executive director of B.C.’s Alliance of Beverage Licensees, which represents bars, pubs and private liquor stores, said the industry has seen a shift in consumers wanting options that are more convenient.

“It’s not a massive change in consumer behaviour but it is a definitely a noticeable one, which is why you see big companies responding to it,” he said.

Guignard said the latest CCSA report is creating an increased awareness and desire to become educated about responsible consumption choices, which is a good thing, but he adds it’s important for people to look at the relative risk of what they’re doing.

“If you’re eating fast food three meals a day, I don’t think having a beer or not is going to be the single most important determinant of your health,” he said.

“But from a consumer perspective, as consumer preferences change, of course beverage manufacturers respond with different packaging or different products, the same way you’ve seen in the last five years, a large number of low-alcohol or no-alcohol beverages being introduced to the market.”

While he won’t predict how much the market share could grow, Guignard said non-alcoholic beverages and low-alcoholic beverages will continue to be a significant piece of the market.

“I don’t know if it’s reached its peak or if it will grow. I just expect it to be part of the market for now on.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 5, 2023.

 

Ashley Joannou, The Canadian Press

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