Tuesday, March 3, 2020

UPDATE-Saudi, Bahrain, UAE, Hong Kong, Macao, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan follow Fed and cut rates

     (Following item is updated with Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan)

     The central banks of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Hong Kong, Macao, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan cut their main interest rates by between 25 and 75 basis points, tracking the U.S. Federal Reserve which on March 3 cut its benchmark federal funds rate by 50 basis points due to the risk to the economy from the coronavirus.
     Six of the eight central banks peg their currencies to the U.S. dollar and normally follow changes in U.S. monetary policy to maintain the peg.
     Kuwait's central bank does not peg its dinar to the U.S dollar but to a basket of currencies while Macao's currency, the pataca, is linked to the Hong Kong dollar so the Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM) normally follows any interest rate changes by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA).
     The Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) cut its benchmark repo rate by 50 basis points to 1.75 percent and the reverse repo rate by the same amount to 1.25 percent, citing "global developments."
     The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) cut its policy rate, the one-week deposit rate, to 1.75 percent from 2.25 percent.
     CBB also cut its overnight deposit rate to 1.50 percent from 2.0 percent, the one-month deposit rate to 2.20 percent from 2.45 percent while its lending rate was unchanged at 4.0 percent.
     The Central Bank of the U.A.E. cut both its interest rate on certificates of deposits and the repo rate by 50 basis points. Following the cut, the UAE's deposit rate is now at 2.0 percent.
     HKMA said it had adjusted downwards its base rate by 50 basis points to 1.50 percent, adding the Federal Reserve's action indicate it will "proactively use its monetary policy to mitigate possible economic risks posed by the coronavirus."
     "However, further developments of the coronavirus are still very uncertain and financial markets will continue to see considerable volatility. Investors should manage their risks prudently," HKMA's chief executive, Eddie Yue, said in a statement.
    Macao's AMCM lowered its base rate of the discount window by 50 basis points to 1.50 percent.
    The Qatar Central Bank (QCB) lowered its benchmark lending rate (QCBLR) by a larger 75 basis points to 3.50 percent, but the deposit rate (QCBDR) by 50 points to 1.50 percent and the repo rate by 50 points to 1.50 percent "taking into account the evolving domestic and international macroeconomic developments."
    The Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) cut its discount rate by 25 basis points to 2.50 percent, citing "the uncertainty of global economic growth prospects, and the negative impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global economic acuity and international trade and decrease in demand rates and domestic product."
     CBK Governor Mohammad Y Al-Hashel added in a statement the cut was "part of the precautionary measures taken to contain the impact of the coronavirus outbreak" and part of the bank's efforts to maintain monetary and financial stability.
    The Central Bank of Jordan (CBJ) cut its benchmark rate, the one-week repo rate, by 50 basis points to 3.50 percent to support economic growth.



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