BSP seen keeping rates on hold until 2nd half of 2015

By Karen Lema, Reuters

Posted at Dec 09 2014 02:32 PM | Updated as of Dec 10 2014 05:14 PM

MANILA - The Philippine central bank is expected to hold off on raising interest rates until the second half of next year on cooling inflation and weaker growth, a Reuters poll found.

All 12 economists surveyed by Reuters said the central bank would leave the overnight borrowing rate unchanged at 4.0 percent for a second consecutive meeting on Dec. 11. It raised rates by 25 basis points in July and September.

The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) is also expected to keep the rate on its short-term special deposit accounts steady at 2.50 percent.

Of the nine analysts asked when the central bank would resume its tightening cycle in 2015, four said it would raise rates in the second quarter, another four said in the third quarter and one believed in the last three months of the year.

In deciding the timing of the first rate increase next year, policymakers will take their cue from when the U.S. Federal Reserve moves to tighten policy, analysts said.

Annual inflation in the Philippines eased for the third straight month in November, while growth slowed to its weakest pace in more than five years in the third quarter.