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Another round of rate hikes likely

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MARC Ratings Bhd chief economist Firdaos Rosli told StarBiz he expects another 25 bps hike in the coming MPC meeting.

PETALING JAYA: Another round of spike in borrowing cost is anticipated when Bank Negara convenes its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting tomorrow.

Economists are expecting a 25-basis-point (bps) hike in the overnight policy rate (OPR) to 2.25% at the July 6 meeting.

This would be the first consecutive rise in the OPR in more than a decade to stem rising inflationary pressures from the weaker ringgit as the US Federal Reserve goes on an aggressive interest rate hike.

On May 11, the central bank raised the OPR to 2% from 1.75%.

As the OPR determines the rate of interest that financial institutions charge each other for overnight funds, the hike means higher borrowing costs.

All 22 economists in the June 27-July 1 Reuters poll forecast rates to rise by another 25bps to 2.25% at the July 6 meeting. The central bank last raised rates twice in a row in mid-2010.

Economists see 25 bps rise at next MPC meeting

A slight majority of survey respondents, 12 of 22, predicted another 25 bps rise in September to 2.50%, while the remaining 10 expected no change after a July hike.

MARC Ratings Bhd chief economist Firdaos Rosli told StarBiz he expects another 25 bps hike in the coming MPC meeting.

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He said this would come in amid higher private consumption growth in the second quarter (2Q) and gross domestic product (GDP) growth in the same period.

The government is maintaining its economic growth projection of between 5.3% and 6.3% for 2022.

The nation’s economy expanded by 5% year-on-year in 1Q.

The central bank will likely consider, among others, the steady decline in the unemployment rate over the recent months (January 2022: 4.2% versus April 2022: 3.9%) and financial market stability amid foreign capital flows while keeping the ringgit fairly stable against the ongoing external pressures.

He said the bank would also consider policy normalisation exercise, where an excessive accommodative stance to cushion the impact of Covid-19 pandemic on the domestic economy would have to eventually be tightened.

However, Firdaos does not foresee the central bank being overly aggressive like other major central banks because the country’s inflation rate remains relatively benign compared with other countries amid active government intervention.

He foresees another 25 bps hike in the final MPC meeting in early November this year.

The inflation rate, as measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI), in May this year rose by 2.8% compared with the same month of the preceding year.

The increase once again surpassed the average inflation for the period 2011 to May 2022 (1.9%).

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