Bangko Sentral keeps interest rates steady after 5 successive hikes

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 13 2018 04:04 PM | Updated as of Dec 13 2018 04:36 PM

Peso bills and coins are shown in this illustration photo. The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas kept interest rates stead on Dec. 13 after 5 successive increases as inflation started to slow. Gigie Cruz, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA -- The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas kept interest rates steady, pausing for the first time after 5 successive increases as inflation started to ease from near 10-year highs.

The Monetary Board kept the overnight borrowing rate, which banks use to price their loans, at 4.75 percent on its last meeting for the year.

Inflation forecasts were also lowered to 5.2 percent this year, 3.18 percent in 2019 and 3.04 percent in 2020 from 5.3 percent, 3.5 percent and 3.3 percent, respectively, said BSP Assistant Governor Francisco Dakila.

The 5 successive rate increases, the longest policy tightening streak since the BSP adopted an inflation-targeting scheme, raised the benchmark from just 3 percent at the start of 2018.

Inflation eased to 6 percent in November, slowing for the first time this year and easing from 6.7 percent both in September and October.

The November inflation print signals that price spikes will likely fall back to the government's 2 to 4 percent target range in 2019, BPI lead economist Jun Neri said before the decision was announced.

"This turn is crucial as it signals that the risk of further build-up of speculative activities or hoarding of key commodities has been cut considerably," Neri said.

Economic growth slowed to 6.1 percent in the July to September quarter dragged by a decline in agriculture and weak consumption.