Accelerated growth in core private machinery orders (+5.7% m/m) and in the private consumption index (+1.1% m/m) in November suggest a positive contribution of private domestic demand to Q4 GDP growth. Despite these favorable signs and against market speculation that the central bank might be nearing the start of policy normalization, the Policy Board of the BoJ continued to signal patience at this week’s meeting, leaving the policy stance unchanged (short-term rate at -0.1%, target for the 10-year JGB yield at around 0%). Also in the quarterly outlook report, growth and inflation forecasts were unchanged from the last report. Yet, in a small sign of progress, the assessment of inflation expectations was revised slightly upwards to “more or less unchanged”. However, the BoJ continues to focus on inflation momentum which it described as “not yet sufficiently firm”. Although CPI inflation excluding fresh food and energy has picked up slightly recently, it still stood at just +0.3% y/y in November.