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MNI (Sydney)

Bank Negara Malaysia on Thursday kept its monetary policy powder dry on setting the stage for a rate hike this year, citing both a rebound in economic activity but warning that the outlook remains “tilted to the downside.”

The central bank today left its Overnight Policy Rate unchanged at the record low of 1.75%, the level it has been since the last cut in July 2020, and its accompanying statement – which had expected to hint at a rate rise later this year – was instead neutral in tone, see; MNI BRIEF: Malaysia CB Cites Recovery Momentum In Rates Hold.

On the upside, BNM said the continued progress in vaccination coverage was supporting global growth prospects. Malaysian economic activity had rebounded in the fourth quarter of 2021 and annual growth for the year would be in the range of 3% to 4%, with further momentum in 2022.

But the statement on the policy decision also said that the risks to the growth outlook are heightened by the emergence of new virus variants and supply chain disruptions creating uncertainty.

Malaysian inflation is expected to be modest, after averaging 2.3% in the eleven months to November 2021 and then to “edge upwards” this year. BNM is understood to have a target range for inflation of between 1% and 3%.

BNM said its current monetary stance was accommodative, and future policy would be determined by new data and the outlook for domestic inflation and growth.

MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 |
MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 |

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