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PETALING JAYA: Higher inflationary pressures and geopolitical risks are expected to warrant at least another 25 basis points (bps) hike in Malaysia’s key benchmark interest rate for this year.
The overnight policy rate (OPR), which determines the cost of borrowings, has been raised twice this year by 25 bps to 2.25% currently.
The move to hike the OPR by Bank Negara was as a result of the aggressive rate hikes by the US Federal Reserve (Fed) to tame higher inflation in the world’s biggest economy.
At the present level, the OPR is still below the 3% seen prior to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Most economists expect the central bank to maintain its hawkish tone and raise the OPR by at least 25 bps this year.
Hong Leong Investment Bank (HLIB) Research said while the optics for domestic growth remain bright, the ongoing geopolitical conflicts and elevated commodity prices continue to cloud the global outlook.
“Inflationary pressures also continue to mount domestically, following higher food prices.
“Hence, we maintain our expectation for Bank Negara to raise the OPR by another 25 bps in September.
“This will bring the OPR to 2.5% by end-2022,” it noted.,
Meanwhile, monetary indicators were mixed in June as narrow money supply (M1) grew 10.8% year-on-year (y-o-y) (9.5% y-o-y in May), while broad money supply (M3) eased to 6.6% y-o-y (6.9% y-o-y in May).
Reserve money expanded 12.4% y-o-y (12% y-o-y in May).
Total leading loan indicators strengthened, following higher loan applications (41.7% y-o-y as compared to 5.2% y-o-y in May), approvals (53% y-o-y compared to 22.9% y-o-y in May) and disbursements (31.7% y-o-y compared to 14% y-o-y in May).
Deposits accelerated to 6.6% y-o-y (6.1% y-o-y in May).
They were driven by stronger foreign (5.2% y-o-y compared to 3.8% y-o-y in May) and business deposits (15.1% y-o-y compared to 12.4% y-o-y in May), offsetting the moderation in household deposits (3.8% y-o-y compared to 4.7% y-o-y in May).
The household loan-deposit gap widened as monthly household loans expanded further (0.6%; May: 0.3%), while deposits continued to fall (0.4%; May: 1.7% decline).
On a y-o-y basis, household loans gained momentum (5.9% y-o-y compared to 5% y-o-y in May), while household deposits slowed (3.8% y-o-y compared to 4.7% y-o-y in May).
Foreigners turned net sellers of local bonds in June (RM4.1bil; May: a rise of RM0.5bil), induced by fears of a more aggressive monetary policy tightening by the Fed, as well as concerns over a potential global economic slowdown.