The plunge in the price of oil makes it increasingly uncertain whether the Bank of Japan will reach its 2 per cent inflation target in the coming fiscal year, according to people familiar with the central bank's discussions. The central bank is not currently inclined to expand already record easing at a meeting next week, reflecting its view that the economy remains in a virtuous cycle and inflation expectations are steady, the people said. While cheaper energy costs may weigh on consumer prices for a time, they ultimately will boost the economy - spurring inflation. "It will probably be difficult to achieve the 2 per cent inflation goal within the next fiscal year," economy minister Akira Amari said yesterday, citing the government's own inflation forecast of 1.4 per cent for next fiscal year. Consumer prices, excluding fresh food and stripped of the impact of an April 2014 sales-tax increase, rose 0.7 per cent in November from a year before, government data shows. Takeshi Minami, an economist at Norinchukin Research Institute, said the central bank was unlikely to expand stimulus when the policy board meets next week. Some analysts predict the bank will need to add to its stimulus efforts later in the year.