Malaysia’s central bank raises key rate for third straight meeting as inflation risk clouds outlook
- Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) raised its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to 2.50 per cent
- BNM raised rates at its two previous meetings from a historic low of 1.75 per cent. Economists polled by Reuters expect a fourth increase in November
Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) raised its overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to 2.50 per cent, as expected by 19 of 20 economists polled by Reuters.
It was the first time it had delivered three consecutive increases since 2010.
The economists polled also expect a fourth increase in November. BNM had raised rates at its two previous meetings from a historic low of 1.75 per cent.
The central bank said in a statement that indicators pointed to continued growth in the economy, including improved labour market conditions and a recovery in investment activity and tourism following the reopening of borders.
BNM’s monetary policy committee was “not on any preset course and will continue to assess evolving conditions and their implications on the overall outlook to domestic inflation and growth,” it said.
Consumer prices rose 4.4 per cent on an annual basis in July, quickening from June, with headline inflation averaging at 2.8 per cent this year.
BNM said underlying inflation, as measured by core inflation, was expected to average closer to the upper end of its range of 2-3 per cent in 2022.
It expects headline inflation will peak in the current quarter before moderating.
The central bank said last month any rate adjustments would be measured and gradual to avoid stronger measures in the future.
Malaysia’s economy has recovered strongly from a pandemic-induced slump since its borders reopened in April, expanding 8.9 per cent in the second quarter, its fastest annual pace in a year.
However, BNM sees the economy growing at a more moderate pace in the second half of the year, amid an expected slowdown in global growth.
BNM said despite the increased volatility in the global financial and foreign exchange markets, these developments were not expected to derail Malaysia’s growth.
Malaysia’s ringgit had fallen to a 24-year low on Wednesday, though had bounced back slightly on Thursday ahead of BNM’s announcement.
Capital Economics said in a note that Malaysia’s economy was “well placed to absorb further rate hikes” despite a recent decline in commodity prices and weaker global demand.