HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled February 4th and based on Egypt’s current situation, they Perceive upward interest rate pressures and expect the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged.
Head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss commented: “We expect January inflation to come in at 5.2%, near the lower end of the CBE’s new target range of 7% (+/-2%) for 4Q22. We, however, perceive upward interest rate pressures as was manifested in rising yields and relatively weaker coverage in the last government T-bill and T-bond auctions. In this regard, we note that Egyptian treasuries are now facing higher competition from Turkey which increased its policy rates by 200 bps on 24 December, taking its 15M treasuries to 15.97% up from an implied rate of 10.66% previously. Given Bloomberg estimates for 2021 inflation in Turkey at 12.2%, the Turkish treasuries now offer 3.8% real return similar to Egypt’s real return of 3.8% (given Egypt’s 12M yields at 12.99%, 15% tax rate for American and European investors and our 2021e inflation forecast of 7.2%). On a different front, banking sector liquidity, as indicated by the CBE’s deposit auctions, declined to represent c11% of total local currency deposits in November from c13% in October. We also believe that currently, the high-risk business environment poses upward interest rate pressures. Even though the Egyptian economy has shown high resilience in absorbing the repercussions of the pandemic, global uncertainty had its toll on different sectors in Egypt especially tourism and export-related sectors increasing their risk and also posing interest rate pressures, in our view. That said, we expect the MPC to keep rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting on 4 February.”
It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 24 December, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged after undertaking cuts of 50 bps twice in its September and November meetings. Egypt’s annual headline inflation decelerated to 5.4% in December from 5.7% in the previous month, with monthly inflation decreasing 0.4% m-o-m compared to an increase of 0.8% m-o-m in November, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
Egypt’s balance of payment (BOP) recorded a deficit of USD3.47bn in 4Q19/20, reversing a surplus of USD0.25bn a year earlier, with the current account deficit widening to USD3.83bn in 4Q19/20 from a deficit of USD1.09bn a year earlier, data from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) showed. The trade balance deficit slightly widened to USD8.41bn from a deficit of USD8.29bn in 4Q18/19. Egypt’s travel receipts fell c90% y-o-y to USD0.31bn leading to a total services balance surplus of USD0.55bn, down from a surplus of USD3.28bn in 4Q19/18. Worker remittances also declined c11% y-o-y to USD6.16bn, and FDI also fell c11% y-o-y to USD1.52bn. Portfolio inflows in Egypt amounted to USD0.64bn in 4Q19/20, of which net bond inflows amounted to USD3.74bn, offsetting the outflows from the shorter-term portfolio investments, the data showed. (CBE)
HC’s comment: The impact of the coronavirus on Egypt’s external position came in largely as expected, with the exception of the trade balance deficit which came in significantly wider than our estimate of USD5.59bn, as imports of non-petroleum products remained flat y-o-y at USD13.02bn, c36% above our estimate of USD8.38bn. The services balance came in better than our estimated deficit of USD0.79bn due to lower than expected services payments. Worker remittances came in c5% above our estimate of USD5.85bn. The current account balance figure was largely in line with our estimate of USD4.25bn. FDIs came in largely in line with our estimate of USD1.03bn.
Despite subdued inflation rates, HC expects the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged
In its latest report about their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled on 13 August and based on Egypt’s current situation, HC Securities & Investment expects the CBE to maintain rates unchanged despite subdued inflation rates.
Head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss commented: “Inflation levels remains subdued coming in well below the CBE target of 9% (+/- 3%) for 4Q20 and also less than expected 4.6% y-o-y for July, which we attribute to low consumer demand arising from increasing unemployment and plunging consumer confidence. This together with a delay in expected tourism recovery prompt us to downward revise our 2H20e average inflation expectation to c6% y-o-y from c8% y-o-y, previously. In our new estimates, we remain cautious accounting for possible supply shocks. We hence, expect monthly inflation to average 0.8% m-o-m in 2H20e up from an average of 0.4% in 1H20. As of June, real interest rate on deposits and loans came in at 3.4% and 5.6%, respectively, significantly higher than their 12-year average of -3.5% and 0.7%. The high real interest rate environment, however, is justified by the low interbank liquidity, global economic uncertainty and the domestic funding gap, in our view. We take the CBE open market operations as a proxy for interbank liquidity. The figure came in at EGP420bn in June representing 13% of total banking sector local-currency deposits, below its 2008-2020 average of 22% (excluding 2011-2014 which witnessed post-revolution liquidity dry-up).”
“Moreover, following the outbreak of COVID-19 in Egypt in March, foreign portfolio outflows from Egyptian treasuries amounted to USD17bn increasing Egypt’s FY19/20e domestic funding gap to USD21bn, representing c6% of GDP, and taking Egypt’s foreign debt to an estimate of USD125bn in June from USD109bn last year. Using the Sharpe ratio for yields on Egyptian treasuries as well as other emerging markets, we believe that at current levels Egypt provides the highest risk-adjusted return coupled with low currency volatility, second only to Argentina whose currency display significantly high volatility. We believe this permits the government to remain on current interest rate levels, despite the increase in funding gap. We believe that this is behind the recent rebound in foreign portfolio inflows into Egyptian treasuries said to amount to USD3bn during the first 2 weeks of July, according to unnamed banking sources. That said and despite subdued inflation rates, we expect the MPC to maintain rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting maintaining the attractiveness of treasury yields to foreign investors and also reflecting relatively tighter liquidity in the Egyptian banking sector.” Monette Doss added
It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 25 June, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the third time after undertaking a 300bps rate cut on 16 March in an unscheduled meeting. Egypt’s annual headline inflation accelerated to 5.7% in June from 4.7% in the previous month, with monthly inflation remaining subdued at 0.1% m-o-m up from showing no increase in May, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).
A 12-month Stand-by Arrangement (SBA) for Egypt was approved by the executive board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), with access equivalent to SDR3.76bn (about USD5.2bn or c185% of quota) to address balance of payments financing needs arising from the COVID-19, it announced in a press release. The approval of the SBA for Egypt enables the immediate disbursement of about USD2bn, and the remainder will be phased over 2 reviews, it added. The new arrangement aims to help Egypt cope with challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic by providing Fund resources to meet Egypt’s balance of payments needs and to finance the budget deficit. The Fund-supported program would also help the authorities preserve the achievements made over the past 4 years, support health and social spending to protect vulnerable groups, and advance a set of key structural reforms to put Egypt on a strong footing for sustained recovery with higher and more inclusive growth and job creation over the medium term. (IMF)
“The USD5.2bn SBA will bring Egypt’s total recently secured external financing to USD13.0bn, including the USD2.8bn Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) from IMF and the USD5.0bn proceeds from the recent Eurobond issuance, which will help in closing the Egyptian banking sector net foreign liability position and support the balance of payment (BOP).”
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In its latest report about their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled on 25 June and based on Egypt’s current situation, HC Securities & Investment expects the CBE to maintain interest rates unchanged.
Chief economist, and head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss said: “We believe that release of inflationary pressures is mainly driven by lower private consumption due to rising unemployment and significantly less social gatherings following the Coronavirus outbreak. Current price levels also reflect lower demand compared to relatively higher consumption levels during the month of Ramadan. Going forward, we remain cautious as recent EGP devaluation of c3%in addition to possible supply disruptions resulting from lower international trade could lead to some price increases. Hence, we expect inflation to average 8.4% over the remaining of 2020, well within the CBE target of 9% (+/- 3%) for 4Q20. We accordingly, expect the CBE to maintain interest rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting.”
“Applying Egypt’s current 1-year foreign currency credit default swap (CDS) at 330 bps, USA 12m T-bill rate at 0.18%, and Egypt-USA inflation differential into our model shows that Egypt’s current T-bill rates are fairly priced, in our view. We, hence, expect to see some foreign inflows into the Egyptian treasury market going forward, as the global panic arising from the Coronavirus resides. In this regard, there are unofficial announcements that Egyptian treasuries has attracted some USD300m-USD400m in foreign investments over the past week. We believe that this could be seen in the high coverage of treasury auctions during this period compared to the prior period.” Monette Doss added
It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 14 May, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the second time after undertaking a 300bps rate cut on 16 March in an unscheduled meeting. Egypt’s annual headline inflation decelerated to 4.7% in May from 5.9% y-o-y in the previous month, with monthly inflation showing no increase compared to an increase of 1.3% in April, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).