Friday, March 06, 2009

Search: Philippine central bank cuts key interest rates

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine central bank cut its key policy interest rates by a quarter percentage point Thursday, saying a "measured" cut was needed to balance global financial strains and possible price increases in coming months.

The bank's Monetary Board lowered the overnight borrowing rate to 4.75 percent and the overnight lending rate to 6.75 percent.

It was the third drop in policy rates since December, and brought the cumulative reduction to one and a quarter percentage points. Interest rates were cut by half a point in each of December and January.

The Philippine economy grew 4.6 percent last year, its slowest pace in seven years as the global economic crisis took a toll on services and industry while agriculture wilted from typhoon damage.

"Global financial strains are likely to persist and pose risks to economic activity," the bank said.

Accommodative monetary policy could help ensure greater availability of credit and reinforce market confidence, it said.

But the bank said it implemented a "measured adjustment of policy rates" because of a possible rise in inflation due to the volatility in oil prices and exchange rates, increases in utility rates and potential price increases of some agricultural commodities, which it did not specify.

Inflation in the Philippines picked up to 7.3 percent in February from 7.1 percent in January, driven by a rise in the cost of food, beverages and tobacco, the government said Thursday. Inflation peaked at 12.5 percent in August last year.

No comments: