Bank Negara keeps overnight rate at 3pc

A general view of the Bank Negara Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur June 30, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
A general view of the Bank Negara Malaysia headquarters in Kuala Lumpur June 30, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 12 — Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has maintained the overnight policy rate (OPR) at 3 per cent at its Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting today.

In a statement, BNM said the global economy is expanding at a more modest pace amid slower growth in most major advanced and emerging economies.

It said the recent escalation of trade tensions points to weaker global trade going forward, with increasing signs of spillovers to domestic economic activity in a number of countries.

"Monetary policy easing in several major economies has eased global financial conditions, but uncertainty from the prolonged trade disputes and geopolitical developments could lead to excessive financial market volatility," it said.

For Malaysia, BNM said the stronger economic growth performance in the second quarter of 2019 was underpinned by the resilience of private spending amid broad-based expansion in key economic sectors.

Going forward, these domestic drivers of growth, alongside a stable labour market and wage growth, are expected to remain supportive of economic activity.

On the external front, it said Malaysia’s diversified exports will partly mitigate the impact of softening global demand.

“Overall, the baseline growth projection for 2019 remains unchanged, within the range of 4.3-4.8 per cent.

“This projection, however, is subject to further downside risks from worsening trade tensions, uncertainties in the global and domestic environment, and extended weakness in commodity-related sectors,” said BNM.

BNM also noted that average headline inflation year-to-date is 0.3 per cent, while headline inflation is projected to average higher for the remaining months of the year and into 2020.

“However, headline inflation is expected to remain low. This reflects the lapse in the impact of consumption tax policy changes, the relatively subdued outlook on global oil prices, and policy measures in place to contain food prices.

“The trajectory of headline inflation will, however, be dependent on global oil and commodity price developments,” it said.

BNM also said that underlying inflation is expected to remain stable, supported by the continued expansion in economic activity and in the absence of strong demand pressures.

At the current level of the OPR, it said the stance of monetary policy remains accommodative and supportive of economic activity.

“The MPC will continue to assess the balance of risks to domestic growth and inflation, to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains conducive to sustainable growth amid price stability,” it added. — Bernama

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