RTTNews - Wednesday, the Bank of Japan released the minutes of its monetary policy meeting held on April 30, in which the bank said board members were of the view that there was no need for additional policy steps to combat the economic slowdown. The members went on to say that policy should be based on long-term perspective.

At the meeting, the board voted unanimously to keep the overnight call rate unchanged at 0.10%. The central bank did not announce any new policy measures along with the monetary policy statement.

Elsewhere, BoJ governor Masaaki Shirakawa said central banks should consider the soundness of their balance sheets and the banks' neutrality perceived by the public, while adopting unorthodox measures.

Japan saw a merchandise trade balance of JPY69.0 billion in April, the Ministry of Finance said, marking the third straight month of surplus. The April

figure came in far better than expectations for a JPY69.5 billion deficit following the revised JPY10.3 billion yen surplus in March.

Exports plummeted 39.1% year-on-year, the data showed, falling for the seventh consecutive month. That was smaller than forecasts that had predicted an annual decline of 41.9% after the 45.5% fall in March. On a seasonally adjusted basis, April exports were up 1.9% from March.

Imports fell 35.8% year-on-year, declining for the sixth straight month. Analysts had expected a fall of 38.4% on-year after the revised 36.6% decline in March.

Separately, the ministry said the value of crude imports in Japan plummeted 59.1% annually in April.

Japanese small and medium sized companies' business sentiment improved to 34.1 in May from 30.8 last month, a report from the Shoko Chukin Bank showed.

Malaysia's economy contracted 6.2% in the first quarter from the previous year after expanding 0.1% in the fourth quarter, the Bank Negara Malaysia said. The economy shrank more than the expected 3.9% contraction.

Taiwan's Council for Economic Planning and Development said the composite leading index stood at 92.2 in April. The index moved up 2.6% month-on-month in April, after rising 2.8% in March and 1.9% in February.

Macau's jobless rate stood stable at 3.8% in the February to April period from the preceding three-month period, the Statistics and Census Service said.

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