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Philippine central bank seen holding rates steady as recovery hopes dim

Philippine central bank seen holding rates steady as recovery hopes dim

FILE PHOTO: A logo of Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) is seen at their main building in Manila, Philippines March 23, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

MANILA: The Philippine central bank is expected to leave its key interest rate steady on Thursday for a sixth straight meeting, as a new wave of COVID-19 infections darkens the outlook for the economy, a Reuters poll showed.

All 11 economists surveyed predicted the central bank will keep the overnight reverse repurchase facility rate at a record-low of 2.0 per cent at its policy meeting, which will follow the release of second-quarter economic output data on Tuesday.

The economy likely expanded 10 per cent in the June quarter from a year earlier, based on the median forecast in the same poll, compared with a record 17 per cent contraction in the same period last year and a revised 3.9 per cent slump in the first quarter.

On Monday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) Governor Benjamin Diokno repeated the central bank's resolve to maintain its accommodative monetary policy for as long as needed to ensure a sustainable recovery.

Economists cited a low base effect and improved domestic demand for the likely rebound in second-quarter growth, as daily coronavirus cases declined in the period from a record peak in early April.

However, the economy likely contracted by 1.7 per cent from the previous quarter on seasonally adjusted terms, after 0.3per cent growth in the first three months, based on forecasts from four economists.

The reimposition of lockdown measures in the capital Manila and several provinces this month, to prevent the spread of infections driven by the more transmissible Delta variant, has clouded economic prospects.

The Philippines recorded its highest single-day COVID-19 case increase in almost four months on Saturday.

"We believe there is no further room for BSP to ease... But with inflation moving within target, the central bank is likely to keep its policy rate unchanged this year," HSBC economist Noelan Arbis said.

Source: Reuters/gs

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