| 7 December 2023, Thursday |

Egypt’s central bank leaves key interest rates on hold

Egypt’s central bank maintained its overnight interest rates without changing them, citing slowing fourth-quarter growth and falling global commodity prices.

The bank maintained its lending rate at 19.25% and deposit rate at 18.25%, as anticipated by analysts, according to a statement from its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC).

“Domestically, growth of real economic activity eased to 3.9 percent in 2022 Q4 compared to 4.4 percent in 2022 Q3,” the statement said. “Going forward, real GDP growth is expected to slow down in fiscal year 2022/23 compared to the previous fiscal year, before recovering thereafter.”

The median forecast in a Reuters poll of 14 analysts on Monday was for the bank to rates leave rates on hold despite inflation surging to 32.7% in March, just shy of an all-time high, and then slowing to 30.6% in April.

Three analysts had expected a 100 basis-point increase and a fourth a 200 bps increase.

The MPC said inflation had decelerated in part because disruptions to the domestic supply chain, commodity prices and the exchange rate had eased.

“On the global front, forecasts for key international commodity prices have been revised downwards compared to those underlying the previous MPC meeting,” the MPC said.

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year, causing investors to withdraw billions of dollars from the Egyptian treasury market, the central bank has raised rates by a cumulative 1,000 bps and allowed the currency to fall by half.

At its last meeting on March 30, the central bank raised interest rates by 200 bps, saying it aimed to check soaring inflation.

  • Reuters