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NEWS UPDATES Asean Affairs                              7  September 2011

Philippines central bank to maintain rate

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The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) on Tuesday hinted it would keep policy rates unchanged during a meeting on Thursday after inflation eased last month. The National Statistics Office reported that headline inflation slowed to 4.3 percent in August from 4.6 percent in July, using the 2000-based Consumer Price Index series.

Using the 2006-based CPI series, the average increase in prices also fell to 4.7 percent from 5.1 percent over the same period. Both figures are within the 3.9 percent to 4.8 percent forecast the BSP set for the month. The year-to-date averages of 4.3 percent using the 2000-based basket and 4.8 percent using the 2006-based basket likewise are within the BSP’s inflation target range of three to five percent.

“That confirms our assessment that the inflationary pressures have moderated and that inflation is now going to be within the target range of the central bank. This means that the stance of monetary policy will have to be supportive of sustained growth for the economy,” BSP Gov. Amando Tetangco Jr. said on the sidelines of a forum.

He said the BSP will continue to monitor emerging conditions both here and abroad to detect any possible build-up in inflationary pressures, adding that the central bank would remain prepared to adjust its monetary policy settings as needed to preserve price stability.

“We will continue to monitor developments. But barring any surprises on the inflation side, I don’t see any urgency for changing the monetary policy stance at this point and in the near future,” Tetangco said.

In a commentary, HSBC said the BSP has some more room to focus on growth, which decelerated more than expected in the second quarter, amid the “largely contained inflationary pressures.”

“Given the decline of inflationary pressures and weaker growth prospects, we expect the BSP to be in a more accommodative mood and keep rates on hold for now. While the next move is still likely to be up, we don’t expect a hike before the second quarter of 2012,” Trinh Nguyen, HSBC economist for Asia-Pacific, said.


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