* Fed minutes signal cautious approach to further rate hikes
* BOJ official rules out imminent hike in bond yield target
* ECB also cautious in face of stronger data
* Bond yields fall across board
* Euro zone periphery govt bond yields tmsnrt.rs/2ii2Bqr
By Dhara Ranasinghe
LONDON, May 25 (Reuters) - Borrowing costs across the euro area fell on Thursday on further signs that major central banks are wary of stepping back from ultra-loose monetary policies too quickly.
U.S. Federal Reserve policymakers agreed they should hold off on raising rates until it was clear a recent U.S. economic slowdown was temporary, though most said a hike was coming soon, minutes from their last policy meeting showed on Wednesday.
Bank of Japan board member Makoto Sakurai meanwhile on Thursday ruled out the chance of an imminent hike in the central bank’s bond yield target, stressing the need to maintain its massive stimulus programme to prop up inflation and fend off overseas economic risks.
As is the case in the euro zone, growing signs of life in Japan’s economy have presented the BOJ with a fresh communications challenge, pushing it to be clearer with markets on how it might dial back its stimulus, even though such action remains a long way off.
In the single-currency bloc, European Central Bank officials have indicated this week that while monetary policy will reflect an improving economy, inflation remains weak so there is no need to deviate from the policy path already laid out.
“The BOJ and the ECB are the ones with the long-standing structural weaknesses and there are bigger fears about the risk of a taper tantrum,” said Chris Scicluna, head of economic research at Daiwa Capital Markets.
“That’s why the ECB and BOJ will be a lot more cautious in their communication as well - they don’t want to take any risks even though things are going well in both Europe and Japan.”
The tone of central bank wariness has comforted rate-sensitive bond markets, although traders expect the next Fed hike at its June 13-14 meeting.
In Germany, the euro zone’s benchmark issuer, yields were 2-3 basis points lower across the curve.
The 10-year Bund yield fell 3 bps to 0.37 percent , almost 10 bps below seven-week highs hit earlier this month.
Other euro zone yields slipped 3-4 bps, while U.S. Treasury yields dipped in early London trade.
Trade was generally subdued due to a public holiday in a number of countries across Europe.
The market was also focused on an OPEC meeting in Vienna where the cartel is expected to extend output cuts into 2018, adding at least nine months to an initial six-month curb in the first half of this year.
For Reuters Live Markets blog on European and UK stock markets see reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=http://emea1.apps.cp.extranet.thomsonreuters.biz/cms/?pageId=livemarkets
Reporting by Dhara Ranasinghe; Editing by Mark Trevelyan