Ringgit at 4.15 to US dollar at end of 2019, says MIDF Research

While oil prices will not be supportive of the ringgit, MIDF Research sees US interest rate cuts resulting in capital flow to an emerging market like Malaysia. — Reuters pic
While oil prices will not be supportive of the ringgit, MIDF Research sees US interest rate cuts resulting in capital flow to an emerging market like Malaysia. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — MIDF Research is of the view that at end-2019, the Malaysian ringgit would be trading at RM4.15 against the US dollar, as the declining Brent crude oil price is not supportive of it.

Nevertheless, the research firm said the Federal Reserve’s rate cuts which would result in capital inflow to emerging markets, including Malaysia, the better fiscal position of the government and higher domestic demand resulting from an overnight policy rate (OPR) cut and steady economic growth, would help lend support to the ringgit.

“We expect the ringgit to average RM4.15 per US dollar in 2019. Year-to-date, the ringgit has averaged at RM4.13 per US dollar,” it said in a note today.

In separate development, it said the OPR cut is expected to boost domestic demand.

MIDF Research said the 25 basis points OPR cut, on top of low inflationary pressure and stable labour market, would continue to support both private consumption and investment in the second half 2019 (2H19).

Nevertheless, it said private consumption, particularly in the third quarter of 2019 is likely to be impacted by a higher base last year due to the tax holiday period, which ramped up household spending.

Hence, private consumption growth could experience a trivial slowdown in 2H19 from 7.7 per cent year-on-year (y-o-y) recorded in first half 2019.

“We forecast private consumption to increase by 7.5 per cent y-o-y in 2019.

“Since there will be less pressure from the domestic front, we anticipate Bank Negara Malaysia to maintain the OPR at 3.00 per cent in 2019.

“Nevertheless, growing external headwinds with more countries engaging in monetary policy expansion could influence Malaysia’s monetary policy stance,” MIDF Research said.

Meanwhile, the research house opined that higher gross domestic product (GDP) growth in 2019 was still promising.

Based on current developments and indicators, it is maintaining the 2019 GDP growth forecast, first published in December 2018, at 4.9 per cent.

“Commodity-based sectors, particularly mining, are expected to continue recovering as the Kebabangan gas field returned to full capacity in August this year. This continuous recovery would have a substantial impact on the economy in 2H19, as it involves high value-added activities,” MIDF Research said.

In addition, it said the construction sector is likely to grow higher in the second half 2019, driven by projects such as the Light Rail Transit Line 3.

“The East Coast Rail Link contribution will be limited this year, but more obvious starting 2020, as projects for the new alignment will be awarded from next year onwards,” it added. — Bernama

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