The virus outbreak, which originated in China, has killed more than 1,300 people, and caused huge disruptions in movements of goods and people.
“If global supply chain disruptions and travel restrictions are prolonged, the impact will become bigger. But if things stabilize in about two months, the damage will be limited,” said Mari Iwashita, chief market economist at Daiwa Securities.
“We expect exports and factory output to stagnate in the current quarter, before picking up in April-June,” she said.
Asked how much the virus outbreak could cut Japan’s economy this calendar year, 17 of 32 analysts said 0.1-0.2 percentage points and seven said less than 0.1 percentage point, the Feb. 4-13 poll showed.
The economy is expected to grow 0.16% in 2020, an ESP survey conducted each month by a nonprofit private research institute, showed on Thursday.
For the current fiscal year ending in March, analysts polled by Reuters expect Japan’s gross domestic product (GDP) to expand 0.8% with last year’s sales tax hike seen triggering a contraction in growth in October-December.
Growth is likely to slow to 0.5% in the fiscal year beginning in April, the poll showed.
Japan’s heavy reliance on China makes its economy vulnerable to the fallout from the virus. China is Japan’s second largest export destination and the Chinese made up 30% of all tourists visiting Japan and nearly 40% of the foreign tourist spending last year, an industry survey showed.
The survey found 28 of 40 economists, or 70%, predict the BOJ’s next policy move would be to whittle down its massive stimulus program, largely unchanged from the previous month’s survey.
A majority of economists also expected any such move to happen sometime in 2022 or later, the poll showed. Those who expect the central bank’s next move to be an additional easing stood at 30%.
“Downside pressure to the economy from the coronavirus is unavoidable in the short term,” said Takumi Tsunoda, senior economist at Shinkin Central Bank Research Institute.
“Financial markets, including currency markets, are stable. We believe the chance of additional BOJ easing is low.”
Economists are split on whether the BOJ will conduct a review of its policy target and tools as its European and U.S. counterparts are doing amid subdued growth and inflation.
The poll showed 20 of 39 economists don’t expect the BOJ to review its policy, while 19 said the central bank will. Among those who selected “yes”, more than half predicted it could be by the first half of 2021 and 42% said it would be sometime in 2020 or later.
“While the probability of another round of comprehensive review is not so high, the results of reviews by both major central banks would have non-negligible impacts on the BOJ’s strategy in coming years,” said Tetsuya Inoue, chief researcher at Nomura Research Institute.
Core consumer inflation, which excludes volatile fresh food costs, is expected to be 0.6% in the current fiscal year and be at 0.5% the following year, the poll found, far below the BOJ’s 2% inflation target.