HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled June 17th 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: “The May inflation figures came in slightly better than our estimates of 5.0% y-o-y and 0.8% m-o-m. Over the rest of 2021, we expect monthly inflation to average 0.8% m-o-m and 6.8% y-o-y accounting for rising international commodity prices and a possible pick-up in tourism and consumer spending 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. Given sluggish tourism receipts, currently, Egypt relies on foreign portfolio inflows into sovereign debt as a main source for foreign currency which poses interest rate pressures on sovereigns. This is evident in T-bill rates declining by only 129bps since January 2020 despite the CBE undertaking a 400 bps rate cut during that period which resulted in a decoupling between corridor rates and sovereign yields. Currently, banks earn an after-tax rate of 10.6% on 12M treasuries and around 10.8% on lending to the private sector (according to the CBE’s subsidized loan initiatives to different sectors at 8% while compensating participating banks for the difference between mid-corridor rate + 2%). We believe that at this point a rate cut could result in further deviation of sovereign and corridor rates with the risk-free rate being on the lower side. We note that over the last 3 months foreign portfolio inflows into Egyptian treasuries have been largely stagnant with announcements for foreign holdings in May being at USD28-29bn, the same figure that was announced for February. We also note that net foreign assets for the banking sector (excluding the CBE) came in at USD3.52bn which we believe is a vulnerable level given that Egyptian banks are the main cushion against a currency sell-off. We accordingly, expect the MPC to maintain rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting. We believe that a 100 bps rate cut is possible in 2H21 following the resumption in tourism and a possible pick-up in international trade. Also, possible higher inflows into Egyptian sovereigns following the inclusion in the FTSE Frontier Emerging Markets Government Bond Index Series and the JP Morgan GBI-EM Global Diversified Index could allow room for the MPC to undertake a rate cut. That said, we believe that Egyptian treasuries provide attractive real yield of 4.0% on our calculations (13.3% on 12M T-bills, 15% tax rate for European and American investors and our inflation estimate of 7.3%) compared to a real yield of 3.1% for Turkey (18.7% on 1-year treasuries, zero tax rate and Bloomberg inflation estimate of 15.6%).”
It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 28 April, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the fourth consecutive time after undertaking cuts of 50 bps twice in its October and November 2020 meetings. Egypt’s annual headline inflation accelerated to 4.8% in May, with monthly inflation increasing 0.7% m-o-m compared to an increase of 0.9% in April, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).