Factbox: The only way is down – Emerging central banks keep cutting rates

By Karin Strohecker and Ritvik Carvalho

LONDON (Reuters) – Interest rate cuts by emerging market central banks outstripped rate hikes for a third straight month in April, taking their cue from the dovish turn of major central banks from the U.S. Federal Reserve to the ECB.

Interest rate moves by central banks across a group of 37 developing economies showed three net rate cuts in April – the same number as in March and February.

The third month of net rate cuts follows a tightening cycle that ended in early 2019 and which saw interest rate hikes by emerging market central banks outstrip or match cuts for nine straight months to battle the fallout from a strong dollar, rising inflation and softer currencies.

Graphic: Shifting gears – https://tmsnrt.rs/2VtMo1c

For an interactive version of the above graphic, click here https://tmsnrt.rs/2VtMl5w.

Below is a list of recent emerging market central bank monetary policy changes:

AZERBAIJAN – The central bank cut its refinancing rate by 25 basis points to 8.75 percent on April 26, citing an improved macroeconomic situation and higher global oil prices.

UKRAINE – Ukraine’s central bank trimmed its main interest rate to 17.5 percent on April 25, the first decrease in the past two years.

KAZAKHSTAN – Policymakers cut the policy rate by 25 basis points to 9.00 percent on April 15 in an expected move taken after President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev ordered them to make credit more affordable.

INDIA – The central bank cut the interest rate as expected by 25 basis points on April 4, a move to lift the economy a week before voting began in a marathon election that will decide whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi gets a second term. Inflation remains subdued, though falling farm incomes and record high unemployment have seen economic growth slide to 6.6 percent in December – its slowest in five quarters.

PAKISTAN – The central bank raised its key interest rate to 10.75 percent on March 29, citing continuing inflationary pressures and a high fiscal and current account deficit.

NIGERIA – In a surprise move, the central bank cut its benchmark interest rate to 13.5 percent from 14 percent on March 26 as part of an attempt to stimulate growth in Africa’s biggest economy and signal a “new direction”.

PARAGUAY – Paraguay’s central bank cut its policy rate by 25 basis points to 4.75 percent on March 22.

JAMAICA – Jamaica’s central bank cut its interest rate by 25 basis points to 1.25 percent on March 19 – the third cut since December.

GEORGIA – The central bank cut its refinancing rate to 6.5 percent from 6.75 percent on March 13, citing forecasts suggesting that annual inflation would stay close to its 3 percent target this year.

KYRGYZSTAN – Kyrgyzstan’s central bank cut its policy rate to 4.50 percent from 4.75 percent on Feb. 26, citing deflation and the need to stimulate economic growth.

EGYPT – Egypt’s central bank made a surprise cut to its overnight deposit rate on Feb. 14, citing a strong drop in inflation and an improvement in other macroeconomic indicators. The bank lowered its deposit rate to 15.75 percent from 16.75 and its lending rate to 16.75 percent from 17.75, its first rate cuts since March 2018.

TUNISIA – Policymakers in Tunisia raised the key interest rate to 7.75 percent from 6.75 percent to combat high inflation – the third such hike in the past 12 months.

(Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Graphic by Ritvik Carvalho; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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