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MNI (Sydney)
SYDNEY (MNI)

Malaysia’s central bank is likely to discuss the timing of monetary tightening at its first meeting for 2022 this week as inflation tracks higher than expected and the economy recovers from pandemic restrictions.

Bank Negara Malaysia is unlikely to change its Overnight Policy Rate from the current setting of 1.75%, see: MNI STATE OF PLAY: Malaysia Central Bank Sees Improving Growth.

But headline inflation rose to 3.3% in November, outside what is understood as the target range of between 1% and 3% and with growth likely to reach close to 6% in 2022 the scene is being set for a rise in official interest rates in the third or fourth quarters.

That makes the Thursday BNM meeting one that will be watched for changes in language on the outlook for monetary policy. The last move in rates was a cut in July 2020, just as the pandemic prompted the first lockdowns.

Malaysia, like neighbouring emerging market Indonesia, also has to keep an eye on expected hikes in U.S. interest rates this year to stem inflation and any potential impact on the ringgit, see: MNI INTERVIEW: CoreLogic Sees US Shelter CPI At 7% By Yearend.

UPBEAT PROSPECTS

Inflation in Malaysia however is expected to ease in the early months of the year as supply-chain pressures abate.

And Malaysia has among the highest vaccinate rates in Southeast Asia, with almost 80% of the population fully vaccinated.

There is also optimism about the country’s economic prospects for 2022, with Malaysia, a 15 Asia-Pacific nation trade pact known as RCEP in force this year, overtaking Vietnam as a destination for foreign investment with a focus on the manufacturing sector, MNI: China Gets High Tech Help Via RCEP, But Wants Homegrown.

November trade figures surprised on the upside, with exports surging 32.4% year-on-year, coming after a 25.5% increase in October.

MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 | lachlan.colquhoun.ext@marketnews.com
MNI Sydney Bureau | +61-405-322-399 | lachlan.colquhoun.ext@marketnews.com

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