Bangko Sentral may raise rates as early as Q1: analyst

Bruce Rodriguez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 01 2018 11:39 AM

MANILA - The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas could raise interest rates as early as the first quarter of next year, and by as much as 100 basis points to keep inflation in check, analysts said.

The BSP's Monetary Board has not raised rates since a 25-basis point adjustment in September 2014. It will meet for the first time this year on Feb. 8.

Depending on external factors that could affect inflation, there could be a "modest" rate hike, "perhaps in the first quarter," said Security Bank economist Angelo Taningco.

The central bank could raise interest rates by 25 basis points up to 4 times this year, said Nomura senior economist for Southeast Asia Euben Paracuelles.

"This is a way for the BSP to demonstrate its inflation fighting credentials, and obviously, from a credibility standpoint that matters a lot,” he said.

The Federal Reserve will release minutes of its December meeting at 1900 GMT in Washington on Wednesday (Thursday in Manila).

Deputy Governor Diwa Guinigundo said the BSP would be "data-dependent" when deciding on interest rates.

"We review the developments in the sector, financial markets, interest rates against external developments such as possible tightening of the US Fed three times in 2018," Guinigundo said.

Guinigundo said policy tightening in the US could spur capital outflows from the Philippines and affect the peso-dollar exchange rate.