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Malaysia Central Bank Keeps Policy Rate at Record Low

01/20/2022 | 02:39am EDT

By Chester Tay

Malaysia's central bank maintained its benchmark interest rate at a record low amid global inflation concerns, as growth risks within the Southeast Asian economy remain tilted to the downside even after economic activity rebounded in the final quarter last year.

Bank Negara Malaysia on Thursday kept its overnight policy rate at 1.75%, as forecast by all 11 economists polled by The Wall Street Journal.

The central bank expects 2022 headline inflation will likely remain moderate as the base effect from fuel inflation dissipates.

Core inflation is expected to be modest, with upside risk contained by continued slack in the economy and the labor market, Bank Negara said.

"The outlook, however, continues to be subject to global commodity price developments amid risks from prolonged supply-related disruptions," it said.

The central bank has stood pat since July 2020, when it cut the benchmark rate to support the economy after the country imposed movement restrictions to curb the spread of Covid-19.

Bank Negara said economic growth is expected to gain further momentum in 2022, driven by an expansion in global demand and higher private-sector expenditure amid improvements in the labor market and continued policy support.

However, the central bank said downside risks may arise from weaker-than-expected global growth, a worsening in supply-chain disruptions and the possible emergence of severe and vaccine-resistant Covid-19 variants.


Write to Chester Tay at chester.tay@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

01-20-22 0239ET

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