MPC expected to hike policy rate further
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MPC expected to hike policy rate further

Economists project at least one uptick

The central bank's policy rate normalisation is in line with the country's economic recovery, attributed to the tourism sector rebound. (Photo: Reuters)
The central bank's policy rate normalisation is in line with the country's economic recovery, attributed to the tourism sector rebound. (Photo: Reuters)

Economists forecast the Bank of Thailand's terminal policy rate will be in the range of 1.75% to 2.5% for this cycle of rate hikes.

They believe despite a continued economic recovery, inflationary pressure will remain.

The terminal rate is defined as the peak level where the benchmark rate will come to rest.

Krungthai Compass, the research centre of Krungthai Bank, assesses the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) as likely to increase its policy benchmark rate at its next meeting.

The central bank's policy rate normalisation is in line with the country's economic recovery, attributed to the rebound of the tourism sector, said the centre.

However, the inflation rate is expected to remain at a high level and stay above the central bank's target range of 1-3%, especially in the first half.

The Bank of Thailand will continue to increase its policy rate to 2% by the end of this year, with a terminal rate projected at 2.5% next year at the end of its hiking cycle, Krungthai Compass said in its 2023 economic outlook paper.

On Wednesday, the MPC voted unanimously to raise its policy rate by 0.25 percentage points from 1.25% to 1.5%.

It is the fourth consecutive policy rate hike, with increases in August, September and November last year, each by 0.25 percentage points.

Piti Disyatat, the MPC secretary, said the economy would continue to gain traction based on the recovery in tourism and private consumption, thanks to the return of Chinese tourists.

He said under a gradual policy rate normalisation, rate hikes could take place for a while if appropriate for the economic environment.

The MPC will also consider a terminal rate in future meetings, said Mr Piti.

Headline inflation is expected to decline, whereas core inflation will remain at a high level, with increased risk from demand-side inflationary pressure because of the economic recovery, according to the MPC.

The committee deems continuing with a gradual policy normalisation as an appropriate monetary policy consistent with the growth and inflation outlook, he said.

SCB EIC, the research unit of Siam Commercial Bank, forecasts two more policy rate hikes this year, each by 0.25 percentage points.

The think tank predicts the two increases will occur at the next two meetings, in March and May. Then the central bank is expected to keep the policy rate steady at 2% until the end of the year, said SCB EIC.

Kasikorn Research Center, the research unit of Kasikornbank, predicts only one more policy rate hike this year, rising by 0.25 percentage points in the first quarter to 1.75%.

Then the central bank is expected to maintain the policy rate at 1.75% until the end of 2023, said the centre.

Krungsri Global Markets Group estimates a policy rate hike by a quarter-point at the next meeting in March, rising to 1.75%.

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