Philippines: Rate hike pause or 25bp rise a ‘possibility’ – BSP official

  • There is room for the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) to pause on policy tightening with inflationary pressure showing signs of waning, said one senior central bank official who nevertheless said the economy appears capable of absorbing higher interest rates.
  • Asked if policy makers could hold off further policy tightening on 15 Nov 18, BSP Deputy Governor Chuchi G. Fonacier replied: “I think there’s room for that, but I can’t really be precise about it.”
  • “There’s that possibility for a pause or 25 basis points (increase) on 15 Nov 18,” Ms. Fonacier said on the sidelines of the Chamber of Thrift Banks meeting on Monday.
  • A BusinessWorld poll among 11 economists last week resulted in a toss-up, with six betting that authorities will keep rates steady while five said a 25bp hike would still be on the table.
  • Ms. Fonacier said that preliminary data from early Nov 18 show that the overall rise in prices of some items in the theoretical basket of basic goods widely used by households — the consumer price index (CPI) — has been “decelerating.”
  • “I think the economy can still afford a hike of 25bp maybe at most, but there’s also this possibility of a stay-put or maintain because some numbers in the CPI basket are decelerating,” Ms. Fonacier said.
  • Monetary Board Member Felipe M. Medalla had said that the central bank may consider halting its tightening cycle amid signs that inflation is “abating.” Last week, BSP Governor Nestor A. Espenilla, Jr. said Oct 18 inflation shows that price pressures are “finally moderating,” prompting authorities to assess “if there’s still need for further policy rate adjustments.”

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