Bank of Russia delivers fifth rate cut

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Aden - Yasmin Abdel Azim - Moscow: The Bank of Russia delivered a fifth consecutive bout of monetary easing and said it would consider more cuts in the first half of next year as inflation continues to fall below target.

The bank lowered its benchmark interest rate by 25 basis points to 6.25 per cent, according to a statement published on Friday, taking the total reduction this year to 150 basis points. The move was forecast by 26 out of 33 economists in a Bloomberg survey. Four had predicted a hold and three expected a deeper move.

“If the situation develops in line with the baseline forecast, the Bank of Russia will consider the necessity of further key rate reduction in the first half of 2020,” the bank said in the statement. “Disinflationary risks still exceed pro-inflationary risks over the short-term horizon.”

At past meetings the central bank said it would consider further cuts “at one of the next meetings.”

Governor Elvira Nabiullina will hold a news conference at 3pm Moscow time.

The rate cuts have so far failed to stoke inflation, which fell well below the bank’s 4 per cent goal last month, while economic growth has also lagged behind the government’s goals. Russian government bonds have attracted inflows of about $16 billion this year due to faster-than-expected easing.

“A subtle change in the guidance leaves the door open for further easing but signals a greater chance of a pause before the next move. We still think another cut will come early next year, but that’s going to be data dependent.”

— Scott Johnson, Bloomberg Economics

Russia is following central banks in Turkey and Ukraine in reducing borrowing costs this week after the Federal Reserve signalled it is in no rush to reverse its three recent rate cuts. Optimism about a trade deal between the US and China is helping to create a rosier backdrop for emerging-market central bankers.

The rouble extended a rally after the rate decision, trading about 1 per cent higher in line with most emerging-market currencies. Yields on 10-year government bonds declined 2 basis points to 6.4 per cent.

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