• Kyodo

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Financial assets held by Japanese households came to a record high of ¥1.708 quadrillion at the end of March, up 5.2 percent from a year earlier, as a weak yen and rising share prices boosted their value, the Bank of Japan said Monday.

The key stock index has risen to 18-year highs on robust earnings while the yen’s fall against the dollar and other major currencies has increased the value of their foreign assets in terms of the unit.

The latest result topped the previous record of ¥1.696 quadrillion marked three months earlier, the central bank said.

By type of assets, cash and deposits accounted for 51.7 percent, the biggest chunk of the total, and stood at ¥883 trillion, up 2.2 percent from the year before. Stock and other equities rose 21.5 percent to ¥184 trillion, while investment trusts grew 21.6 percent to ¥95 trillion. Shares alone increased 20 percent to ¥100 trillion, a level unseen over the past eight years.

Although households still have a tendency to choose safer assets, they are not just focused on “safe driving” anymore and gradually rebalancing to riskier assets, a BOJ official said.

Assets held by companies excluding financial institutions rose 13.2 to a record ¥1.111 quadrillion as they moved to hold more equities.

The quarterly data also showed the outstanding balance of Japanese government bonds grew 4.2 percent to ¥1.038 quadrillion. The BOJ remained the biggest holder of sovereign debt, accounting for 26.5 percent of it, or a record ¥275 trillion, up 36.6 percent, as it gobbles up most of the bonds available as part of its unorthodox monetary easing strategy to banish deflation.

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