November 9, 2020

HC expects the CBE to cut interest rates 50bps

Norway
  • HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled November 12th and based on Egypt’s current situation, they expect the CBE to cut interest rates 50bps.

Head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss commented: “We believe October inflation figures could accelerate further to 4.2% y-o-y and 1.5% m-o-m mainly impacted by the back-to-school season, however, it would still remain well below the CBE’s target of 9% (+/- 3%) for 4Q20. We believe high unemployment levels and suppressed consumer spending are the main factors underlying low inflation levels, while monetary easing started to bear fruit in October as indicated by Egypt’s Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) coming in at 51.4 signaling economic expansion for the second consecutive month. Based on our October inflation forecast, we estimate Egypt’s real interest rates on short-term deposits and loans at 4.4% and 5.9%, respectively, significantly above their 12-year average of -3.3% and 0.8%. Also, foreign portfolio investments in Egyptian treasuries recovered sooner than we expected reaching USD21.1bn in mid-October from USD10.4bn in May, according to official announcements, resulting in the Egyptian banking sector increasing its net foreign assets position to USD2.06bn in September, excluding the CBE, reversing a net foreign liability position of USD1.09bn in August. Compared to other emerging markets, Egypt offers attractive real after-tax yields of 3.56% (based on 1-year T-bill rate of 13.6%, our 2021e inflation estimate of 8.0% and a tax rate of 15% applied on US and European investors). This is, for example, significantly higher than Turkey’s real yield of -1.60% (based on 1-year T-bill rate of 9.6%, Bloomberg 2021 inflation estimate of 11.2% and 0% taxes), given that Egypt tends to show a better risk profile with its 5-year foreign currency CDS at 408 currently, compared to 528 for Turkey. That said, we expect the CBE to cut interest rates 50bps in its upcoming meeting in order to stimulate private investment and consumption and drive GDP growth, especially in light of a potential second COVID-19 wave. We expect this to have almost no effect on foreign portfolio inflows in Egyptian treasuries, with its yields declining by only 100 bps since March, despite a total of 350 bps rate cuts by the CBE over the same period of time.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 24 September, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to cut rates by 50 bps after keeping them unchanged for 4 consecutive meetings since April.  Egypt’s annual headline inflation accelerated to 3.7% in September from 3.4% in the previous month, with monthly inflation increasing 0.3% reversing a decline of 0.2% in August, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).