Bank Negara seen holding key rate


All 22 economists surveyed by Reuters saw Bank Negara (pic) keeping its overnight policy rate steady at 1.75% tomorrow.

PETALING JAYA: Bank Negara is likely to leave its key interest rate unchanged this week, a Reuters poll showed yesterday, as the country gradually reopens its economy amid a ramped-up Covid-19 vaccination drive.

While Malaysia’s downgrade to its 2021 growth outlook last month fuelled market speculation of another rate cut, analysts said rising vaccination rates and continued strong external demand should support the economic recovery.

All 22 economists surveyed by Reuters saw Bank Negara keeping its overnight policy rate steady at 1.75% tomorrow.

Last year, the central bank cut its benchmark rate by 125 basis points. “Continued rapid progress on the vaccine rollout mean there should be no need to resort to lockdowns in future,” said Alex Holmes, economist at Capital Economics.

“Meanwhile, fiscal policy is likely to remain supportive. All told, we think rates will be left unchanged.”

Malaysia’s economy grew faster than expected in the second quarter of 2021, rising 16.1% from a year ago, when it posted its worst contraction in over two decades due to Covid-19. But it shrank on a quarterly basis as rising coronavirus infections and fresh lockdowns imposed since May weighed on output.

The central bank lowered its 2021 growth forecast to 3% to 4% from 6% to 7.5% last month. Standard Chartered said the uneven state of economic activity may benefit more from targeted measures. ― Reuters

The country has already rolled out hundreds of billions of ringgit in stimulus packages to help spur activity. The government is set to unveil its 2022 budget next month, aimed at prioritising economic recovery and post-pandemic reforms. ― Reuters

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