Philippine central bank seen keeping rates steady on Thursday: poll

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippine central bank is expected to leave its benchmark interest rate steady for a fifth meeting in a row on Thursday, a Reuters poll showed, due to easing inflation and a strong growth outlook.

All 10 economists polled by Reuters predicted the overnight borrowing rate <PHCBIR=ECI> would be kept steady at 4.0 percent on May 14, saying the central bank can afford to take a wait-and-see approach on rates given manageable inflation.

Inflation hit its lowest in nearly two years in April, bringing the average rate in the first four months of the year to 2.3 percent, closer to the bottom end of the central bank’s 2-4 percent target range this year.

Nine of 10 economists asked about the central bank’s next policy move said they expected it to raise interest rates.

Of those, four said it could happen as early as the second half of the year because of an expected rebound in world oil prices and higher interest rates in the United States.

Four others said the central bank would likely resume raising rates next year, while one said the timing of a hike depends on when the Federal Reserve will raise borrowing costs.

(Reporting by Karen Lema; Editing by Jacqueline Wong)

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