As markets turned lower in January, the Bank of Japan has been buying the dips with Japan-listed stock exchange traded funds.
According to the Japan Exchange Group, combined January trading of all ETFs was at a record ¥7.94 trillion, or 100% increase for the same period year-over year and a 53.4% month-on-month increase, reports Leo Lewis for the Financial Times.
In nine of the 19 trading sessions in January, the BOJ stepped into the market to buy at least ¥35 billion in ETFs. The BOJ has set a limit of ¥3 trillion in ETF purchases this year. Kenji Abe, chief Japan equity strategist at Bank of America Merrill Lynch, also argued the spike in January ETF activity may have been speculation that the BOJ could raise its limit up to ¥20 trillion a year.
Moreover, the renewed selling pressure was seen as a buy opportunity from Japan’s Government Pension Investment Fund, the largest pool of retirement savings in the world, and domestic corporations in the last week of January.
The central bank previously stated it would target ETFs that track the JPX-Nikkei 400 Index. The JPX-Nikkei 400 Index was launched in January 2014 as a means of revitalizing 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.