(Bloomberg) -- Signs that record Egyptian inflation is finally starting to slow may prompt the central bank to keep interest rates on hold Thursday, following a surprise hike last month.
Monthly inflation eased in August for a third consecutive time, a trend some economists foresee will soon be reflected in the annual urban rate that surged to new heights over the summer. It may allow the North African nation to refrain from more monetary tightening until it enacts another widely anticipated currency devaluation, which would be its fourth since early 2022.
Eight of 13 economists in a Bloomberg survey expect the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee to leave the benchmark deposit rate at 19.25%, already its highest level in data that stretches back to 2006. The rest predict hikes of between 100 and 200 basis points.
A second month of softening for core consumer prices — the gauge used by the regulator that strips out volatile items — is also “potentially signaling the inflationary effects of the pound depreciation have begun to fade,” said Monica Malik, chief economist at Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank PJSC.
Mired in an economic crisis, Egypt is racing to raise foreign exchange from a selloff of state assets and has pledged to enact a flexible currency regime as part of a $3 billion International Monetary Fund deal. The Egyptian pound’s official rate has traded stable for months and the IMF is holding back on a crucial program review until it sees progress.
Now, with elections coming up in which President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi is predicted to seek a third term, analysts are weighing the impact on the timetable for reforms that may cause more angst for consumers. El-Sisi in June said the Egyptian people can’t bear additional price hikes stemming from devaluations.
Bloomberg reported last week that authorities are considering holding the presidential vote as soon as December. The election commission is due to announce the date on Sept. 25.
“It is unlikely that the Central Bank of Egypt would opt for an aggressive hike in preparation of further currency adjustment until the election takes place,” said Jean-Michel Saliba, Middle East and North Africa economist at Bank of America Corp.
--With assistance from Harumi Ichikura.
©2023 Bloomberg L.P.
BNN Bloomberg Picks
What does a rate hold mean for bonds and equities?
Here's when experts think interest rates might come down
Bank of Canada rate pause: What mortgage holders should know
READ: The Bank of Canada's statement on its latest rate decision
UPDATED: A timeline of Bank of Canada rate hikes
Next six months 'will be quite a challenge': Desjardins CEO