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Bank Negara maintains OPR at 3.00%

The central bank says the current level is supportive of the economy.

3 minute read
A man walks near the logo of Bank Negara Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture. Photo: Reuters
A man walks near the logo of Bank Negara Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur in this file picture. Photo: Reuters

Bank Negara Malaysia's (BNM) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) announced a status quo on interest rates after deciding to maintain the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 3.00%.

This marked the third consecutive session where the MPC has opted to pause at the same level.

In a statement today, the central bank said that at the current OPR level, the monetary policy stance remains supportive of the economy and is consistent with the current assessment of inflation and growth prospects.

"The MPC remains vigilant to ongoing developments to inform the assessment of the outlook for domestic inflation and growth.

"The MPC will ensure that the monetary policy stance remains conducive to sustainable economic growth amid price stability," it said.

The last and sixth MPC meetings of the year will be convened on Nov 1 and 2.

BNM said the monetary policy stance will likely remain tight for most central banks.

"The global economy continues to expand, driven by resilient domestic demand supported by strong labour market conditions. Global growth, however, remains weighed down by persistently elevated core inflation and higher interest rates.

"Global trade is also affected by the rotation of spending from goods to services and the ongoing electrical and electronics (E&E) downcycle," it noted.

BNM said the slower-than-expected growth in China also weighed on the global economy.

It said that globally, headline inflation continued to moderate, and while core inflation in advanced economies is slowing down, it remained above historical averages.

"The growth outlook remains subject to downside risks, mainly from slower momentum in major economies, higher-than-anticipated inflation outturns, an escalation of geopolitical tensions, and a sharp tightening in financial market conditions," it said.

The central bank said the Malaysian economy's growth in the second quarter of the year was affected by slower external demand and a decline in commodity production.

"Moving forward, growth will continue to be driven by resilient domestic expenditure amid the challenging external environment.

"Continued employment and wage growth, particularly in the domestic-oriented sectors, remain supportive of household spending," it said.

BNM said that tourist arrivals and spending are expected to improve further, and investment activity would be supported by the continued progress of multi-year infrastructure projects and the implementation of catalytic initiatives under the recently announced national master plans.

It said domestic financial conditions also remained conducive to financial intermediation amid sustained credit growth.

"These factors will continue to underpin the growth momentum going into 2024. While the growth outlook is subject to downside risks stemming from weaker-than-expected external demand and larger and more protracted declines in commodity production, upside risks mainly emanate from stronger-than-expected tourism activity, a stronger recovery from the E&E downcycle, and faster implementation of existing and new projects," it noted.

BNM said headline and core inflation have continued to ease amid more moderate cost conditions in line with expectations.

The central bank opined that this moderating trend would likely continue in the second half of 2023, partly reflecting the higher base from the second half of 2022 and the continued easing momentum of price increases.

"Risks to the inflation outlook remain highly subject to changes to domestic policy on subsidies and price controls, global commodity prices, and financial market developments, as well as the degree of persistence in core inflation," it added.