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April 22, 2021

HC: March inflation figures came in slightly higher than our estimates. We expect the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged

  • HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled April 29th and based on Egypt’s current situation, they expect the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged.

Head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss commented: “March inflation figures came in slightly higher than our estimates of 4.4% y-o-y and 0.5% m-o-m, which we believe reflects a correction from the previous suppressed levels. Over the rest of 2021, we expect monthly inflation to average 0.9% m-o-m and 6.7% y-o-y accounting for rising international commodity prices and a possible pick-up in economic activity following the successful rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. We, therefore, expect 2021 inflation to remain within the CBE’s target range of 7% (+/-2%) for 4Q22. Looking at the results of recent government T-bill auctions, we believe that foreign portfolio inflows are gradually regaining momentum as evident in the high coverage and possibly the beginning of a cool-off in yields from accelerated increases witnessed over the last couple of months. In recent auctions, yields on US 10-year T-bonds declined to 1.57% from a high of 1.73% in the beginning of April, which we believe reflected positively on foreign portfolio inflows in Egypt. However, we expect to see upward pressure on US treasury yields with Bloomberg 2021 consensus inflation forecast for the US at 2.6%. Also, monetary tightening in other emerging markets, such as Turkey poses upward pressure on Egypt’s yields. Currently, Turkey offers a yield of 17.2% on 19M treasuries, resulting in a real yield of c4%, on our calculations, given zero taxes and Bloomberg consensus inflation estimate for Turkey at 13.2% over the period. This compares to a real yield of 3.9% on Egypt’s 12M T-bills, on our numbers, given 15% tax rate for US and European investors and our inflation forecast of 7.5% over the next 12 months. That said, we expect the MPC to maintain rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 18 March, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the third consecutive time after undertaking cuts of 50 bps twice in its September and October 2020 meetings. Egypt’s annual headline inflation remained unchanged at 4.5% in March, with monthly inflation increasing 0.6% m-o-m compared to an increase of 0.2% in February, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).