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Central bank tips economy to shrink

Japan's central bank said it expects the economy to shrink slightly during the fiscal year ending in March instead of expanding as it forecast earlier because of the overseas slowdown.

The Bank of Japan kept its key interest rate the same at close to 0% but downgraded its growth forecast for the year ending March 2012 to a 0.4% contraction from the 0.3% expansion it gave in October.

The bank stuck to its projection for a moderate recovery starting in the first half of the next fiscal year.

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