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Sunday, 18 December 2022

CBE to raise interest rates this week – poll

The Central Bank of Egypt is likely to raise interest rates when it meets on Thursday thanks to rising inflation, according to our interest rate poll. Seven of the nine analysts and economists we surveyed see the Monetary Policy Committee raising rates later this week, with five expecting another huge 200-bps hike.

Where rates currently stand: The overnight deposit rate currently stands at 13.25% and overnight lending rate 14.25%, while the main operation and disc. rates are at 13.75%. The central bank has raised rates by 500 bps so far this year, including a surprise 200-bps hike in October to support the currency in the wake of the devaluation, which has left the EGP down 25% against the greenback.

Continued inflationary pressures means continued monetary tightening: High inflation will likely push the CBE to go ahead with a 100 bps rate hike, Capital Economics MENA economist James Swanston said. Inflation hit a five-year high of 18.7% last month as the CBE’s decision to float the EGP hit food and beverage prices. Banking expert Hany Aboul Fotouh, a veteran of CI Capital, Arab Banking Corporation, and HSBC, predicts a 100-200 bps rate hike, on the back of November’s inflationary figures. HC Securities banking and macro analyst Heba Monir is expecting the CBE to raise rates by 200 bps in a bid to tame inflation and boost foreign inflows.

Inflation to reach its peak next year: Inflation will likely peak next year and then decelerate gradually after that, Swanston said, adding that it will remain well above the CBE’s target. “We don’t see inflation falling into the CBE’s range before mid-2024,” he said. Aboul Fotouh thinks that inflation could hit the 25-27% mark during 1Q 2023 if Egypt continues to have a hard time securing foreign currency.

REMEMBER– We’re still waiting for the Central Bank of Egypt to announce a new target range for inflation, after it previously scrapped its 7% (±2%) target.

The EGP should brace for further depreciation: “The central bank may need a quick action plan which could include a 200 bps hike and a 15% currency depreciation,” said Esraa Ahmed, economist at Al Ahly Pharos. “We believe that the government will benefit from the IMF loan, which will help secure another source for USD.” Aboul Fotouh is also bracing for a cheaper EGP, seeing that the EGP is currently trading at 32-33 against the greenback in the black market.

An emergency meeting is unlikely to happen, CI Capital’s Monsef Morsy told us, predicting 200 bps hikes during the next two meetings. “We hope that the USD coming into the country thanks to the IMF agreement (more on that above) will contribute to adding liquidity to the Egyptian banking sector,” he said, adding that he is expecting inflation to reach 20-24% over the coming four months.

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