Shares jump, yen slumps as BoJ ramps up stimulus

Fri Oct 31, 2014 4:40pm EDT
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By Herbert Lash

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Global equity markets surged more than 1 percent and the yen fell to a nearly seven-year low against the dollar on Friday after the Bank of Japan surprised financial markets by ramping up its massive economic stimulus program.

The unexpected jolt from the BOJ led the dollar to post its biggest daily gain against the yen in 18 months, while driving gold and silver to their lowest since 2010.

The stronger dollar also pushed Brent crude to notch its steepest monthly decline, about 9 percent, since May 2012 as the oil benchmark traded below $85 a barrel for much of the session.

Equity markets surged as the BOJ decision to buy more assets helped ease concerns about the end of the U.S. Federal Reserve's stimulus program and the European Central Bank's reluctance thus far to engage in large-scale bond-buying.

The BOJ's board voted 5-4 to accelerate its buying of government bonds, while tripling its purchases of exchange-traded funds and real-estate investment trusts.

Also, Japan's $1.2 trillion Government Pension Investment Fund announced new portfolio allocations that will double its holdings of domestic and foreign stock holdings.

"It's not just the (BOJ's) easing, but the asset allocation from the pension plan is of course also helpful," said Paul Zemsky, chief investment officer of multi-asset strategies and solutions at Voya Investment Management in New York.

"Economic growth (in the United States) is looking pretty good, earnings are good ... we will end the year certainly closer to 2,100 than 2,000 on the S&P 500."   Continued...

A trader works on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange shortly after the market's opening bell in New York October 31, 2014. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson