KUALA LUMPUR: Bank Negara raised the overnight policy rate (OPR) by another 25 basis points (bps) to 2.25% following the conclusion of its latest monetary policy committee (MPC) meeting, in line with the expectations of most economists.
In a statement, the central bank said the ceiling and floor rates of the corridor of the OPR are correspondingly increased to 2.5% and 2% respectively.
"Amid the positive growth prospects for the Malaysian economy, the MPC decided to further adjust the degree of monetary accommodation.
"This is consistent with the MPC’s view that the unprecedented conditions that necessitated a historically low OPR have continued to recede," it said.
It added that at the current OPR level, the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative and supportive of economic growth.
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Malaysia's economic activity has strengthened in recent months following the transition to endemicity, said Bank Negara.
It said exports and retail spending indicators affirm the positive growth momentum while the unemployment rate has continued to decline with higher labour participation and improving income prospects.
"Looking ahead, while external demand is expected to moderate, weighed by headwinds to global growth, economic growth will be supported by firm domestic demand.
"Additionally, the reopening of international borders since 1 April 2022 would facilitate the recovery in tourism-related sectors.
"Investment activity and prospects continue to be supported by the realisation of multi-year projects," it said.
However, Bank Negara added that downside risks to growth continue to stem from weaker-than-expected global growth, further escalation of geopolitical conflicts, and worsening supply chain disruptions.
This latest increase in the lending rate follows a 25bps rate hike to 2% at the central bank's previous MPC meeting on May 11. The last time Bank Negara implemented back-to-back OPR rate hikes was in mid-2010.
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Economists are anticipating more rate increases to come over the remainder of the year with many projecting at least another 25bps hike in the coming months, which would bring the policy rate to 2.5%.
According to a Reuters poll, 12 of the 22 economists surveyed predict a lending rate of 2.5% by the November meeting, eight forecast 2.75% and just two expect 2.25%.