Bank Negara Malaysia Surprises by Raising Interest Rates 25 bps to 3%

The central bank of Malaysia, Bank Negara Malaysia surprised markets by raising its key overnight policy rate by 25 basis points to 3% in the May meeting of 2023 on Wednesday. Bank Negara had kept rates unchanged at its two previous meetings this year, as it sought to assess the impact of four consecutive hikes totaling 100 basis points in 2022. said the stance of monetary policy remained accommodative and supportive of economic growth.

Policymakers said, “With the domestic growth prospects remaining resilient, the MPC judges that it is timely to further normalize the degree of monetary accommodation”.

Malaysia’s economy has recovered strongly from a pandemic-induced slump, with BNM expecting growth with growth hitting a 22-year high of 8.7% in 2022. That said, slowing global demand has clouded the outlook for its exports of energy, commodities and high-tech goods.

“Malaysia’s economy was expected to grow 4%-5% this year,’ said Bank Negara.

NM has increased rates by a total of 100 basis points since last May from a historic low of 1.75%, as it looked to rein in inflation amid robust growth.

Malaysia Interest Rate


Inflation is expected to moderate, core inflation would remain at elevated levels amid firm demand conditions the bank said.

“With the domestic growth prospects remaining resilient, the MPC judges that it is timely to further normalise the degree of monetary accommodation,” the central bank said, referring to its monetary policy committee.

The consumer price index in March grew 3.4% from a year earlier, its slowest pace in nine months, government data showed.

Monetary Policy Statement Thursday, 9 March 2023

At its meeting today, the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of Bank Negara Malaysia decided to increase the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) by 25 basis points to 3.00 percent. The ceiling and floor rates of the corridor of the OPR are correspondingly increased to 3.25 percent and 2.75 percent, respectively.

The global economy continues to be driven by resilient domestic demand supported by strong labour market conditions, and a stronger-than-expected rebound of China’s economy. Nevertheless, the global economy continues to be weighed down by elevated cost pressures and higher interest rates. Headline inflation continued to moderate, but core inflation has persisted above historical averages. For most central banks, the monetary policy stance is likely to remain tight. The growth outlook remains subject to downside risks, mainly from an escalation of geopolitical tensions, higher-than-anticipated inflation outturns, and a sharp tightening in financial market conditions including from further stress in the banking sector.

For the Malaysian economy, latest developments point towards further expansion in economic activity in the first quarter of 2023 after the strong performance in 2022. While exports are expected to moderate, growth in 2023 will be driven by domestic demand. Household spending remains resilient, underpinned by better labour market conditions as unemployment continues to decline to pre-pandemic levels. The pickup in tourist arrivals is expected to lift tourism-related activities. Further progress of multi-year infrastructure projects will support investment activity. Domestic financial conditions also remain conducive to financial intermediation, with no signs of excessive tightening affecting consumption and investment activities. Risks to the domestic growth outlook are relatively balanced. Upside risks mainly emanate from domestic factors such as stronger-than-expected tourism activity and implementation of projects including those from the re-tabled Budget 2023, while downside risks stem from weaker-than-expected global growth and more volatile global financial market conditions.

As expected, headline inflation trended lower in recent months on account of moderating cost factors. Both headline and core inflation are expected to moderate over the course of 2023, averaging between 2.8% – 3.8%. However, core inflation will remain at elevated levels amid firm demand conditions. Existing price controls and fuel subsidies will continue to partly contain the extent of upward pressures to inflation. The balance of risk to the inflation outlook is tilted to the upside and remains highly subject to any changes to domestic policy including on subsidies and price controls, financial market developments, as well as global commodity prices.

With the domestic growth prospects remaining resilient, the MPC judges that it is timely to further normalise the degree of monetary accommodation. With this decision, the MPC has withdrawn the monetary stimulus intended to address the COVID-19 crisis in promoting economic recovery. In light of the continued strength of the Malaysian economy, the MPC also recognises the need to ensure that the stance of monetary policy is appropriate to prevent the risk of future financial imbalances. At the current level, the monetary policy stance is slightly accommodative and remains supportive of the economy. The MPC will continue to ensure that the monetary policy stance remains consistent with the outlook of domestic inflation and growth.

PM Anwar Ibrahim

At the start of the year PM Anwar Ibrahim has stated that he wants to reduce living costs while strengthening the country’s small businesses. The ringgit is on track for a third consecutive weekly gain.

PM Anwar was deputy prime minister and finance minister at the time of the Asian financial crisis in 1997 and 1998 after Thailand unpegged the baht from the United States dollar. Anwar won praise for his handling of the crisis. However, he fell out with then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad who had him arrested and later jailed over alleged sodomy and corruption.

Source: Bank Negara Malaysia

From The TradersCommunity Research Desk