CAIRO - 14 February 2019: The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) cut the overnight deposit rate and the overnight lending rate at 15.75 percent and 16.75 percent, respectively, during 2019's first meeting.
Egypt which targets to hit average interest rates on the government’s debt instrument of 14.7 percent in the current budget, compared to an expected average of 18.5 percent in FY2017/18 budget, kept the overnight deposit rate and the overnight lending rate at 16.75 percent and 17.75 percent, respectively, during December’s meeting for the sixth time in 2018.
MPC kept the interest rates unchanged during the meeting of December, November, September, August, June and May of 2018, after lowering them twice earlier this year by 1 percent each time.
Unlike most investment banks and economic researches' expectations which went for keeping the rates unchanged during February as a step to have further reductions during the coming meetings to continue the easing cycle.
Analyst in Institutional Equity Sales at NAEEM Holding for Investment Mohamed Sameh explained to Egypt Today that CBE has two ways to decide whether to cut the interest rates or to keep them at the current rates, noting that these ways are foreign direct investment (FDI) and hot money.
As per hot money track, Sameh elaborated that CBE has to follow the advanced markets policy in interest rates which are going to raise their rates during the next period even if they have slowed it down recently, which pushes CBE to at least keep the rates.
He also noted that hot money can enter or exit the market anytime, so they would go for any movement in other markets, referring that about 40 percent exited the Egyptian market, declining from $21 billion to $11 billion.
Emerging markets were affected by an exit wave of foreign investments in government debt instruments during the second quarter of 2018 as the US dollar rose, raising fears from the economies of these markets, especially after the crises of Turkey and Argentina.
"To attract FDI, CBE has to lower the interest rates even if it could cause a shock, with the aim of sustaining development," Sameh said.
Meanwhile, Fitch Solutions, Beltone Financial, EFG Hermes and Pharos anticipated that the Central Bank will keep the interest rates at the current levels during February's meeting.
Fitch Solutions foundation expected that the Egyptian Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will keep interest rates unchanged within the coming few months as the effects of subsidy cuts feed through to higher inflation.
Beltone Financial recapped its view that the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will keep interest rates unchanged during February meeting and fiscal year 2018/2019, as the inflation outlook will remain hostage to the uncertain trajectory of volatile food prices.
For his part, Head of Hermes' research sector Ahmed Shams told MENA that the CBE is not likely to make any interest deductions during the first half of 2019 because of the developments in world markets.
Pharos also said that the current reading of January makes the possibility to cut the interest rates this month weak. “We see that the possibility of lowering interest rates is weak, and if the committee takes a decision to reduce the rates, the ratio will probably not exceed 0.5 percent.”
SHUAA Securities Egypt reiterated its view that the monetary policy committee of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) might cut interest rates by 1 percent on Thursday, Feb. 14, attributing this view to the consistency of the inflation rate with the disinflation path.
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) announced on Feb. 10 that Egypt’s annual consumer price inflation declined to 12.2 percent in January 2019, compared to 17 percent in January 2018.
All the aforementioned economic researches and reports attributed the hike in the monthly inflation during January to food prices due to a pick-up in vegetables and grains prices in particular.
Pharos anticipated inflation rate to stabilize at 0.3 percent to 0.6 percent monthly and at 11.8 percent to 12.5 percent annually during the period of February to May 2019.
Beltone thought that the slight inch-up in inflation reading does not pose risks on our inflation outlook and therefore it reiterated its view that inflationary pressures will remain subdued over 1H19, particularly as the new low headline reading in December 2018 will accommodate inflation so as to remain within 14-15 percent throughout 2019.
Beltone’s also stated that its watch list includes: Foreign inflow in the fixed income in February to confirm the renewed investors’ appetite in the fixed income market, affirming limited pressures on the local currency; and the rate of depletion in banks’ NFAs, which started to ease in December 2018, defining the need to support the local currency.
CAIRO - 14 February 2019: The Monetary Policy Committee of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is going to discuss interest rates on Thursday, Feb. 14, for the first time in 2019, with most expectations going for unchanged rates during Thursday meeting.