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HC: we expect the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged

  • HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled June 23rd 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 figure came in lower than our estimate of 14.0% y-o-y, and we expect it to average 14.4% over the rest of the year, however, well above the CBE’s inflation target of 7% (+/-2% for 4Q22). We believe inflation is largely imported and reflects some product shortages due to less domestic manufacturing and lower importation. Egypt’s PMI came in at 47.0 in May, with the data pointing to low consumer spending, falling new order volumes at the quickest pace since 2020, and reduced business input purchases and staffing. We believe that consumer and business spending is largely subdued, with much of the liquidity directed to high-yield banking deposits. As of April 2022, local currency deposits increased to c66% of GDP from the pre-pandemic level of c49% in April 2019. However, domestic credit to the private business sector remained subdued at c20% of GDP in April 2022, slightly up from c16% in April 2019, and below its pre-revolution level of c26% in April 2010. Given the current economic dynamics, we believe that further interest rate hikes will not prove effective in combating inflation and could prove self-defeating by suppressing business activity, leading to more supply shortages. We still believe that carry trade is essential for supporting Egypt’s net international reserves (NIR) given its recent decline to USD35.5bn in May from USD40.9bn in February, the drop in foreign currency deposits not included in official reserves to USD1.04bn in May from USD9.2bn in February, and the widening net foreign liability position of the banking sector to USD12.7bn in April from USD3.29bn in February. However, an overvalued EGP, as indicated by the JP Morgan real effective exchange rate index at 108 bps, the change in outlook on the Egyptian economy to negative from stable by Moody’s, the emerging markets sell-off , and subdued increase in 12M T-bills are hindering carry-trade and diluting the benefit of an interest rate hike, in our view. We note that the yield on 12M T-bills increased by only 90 bps following the 300 bps policy rate hikes, while the yield on 3M T-bills increased by 370 bps. This resulted in low coverage of the longer-term T-bill auctions, reducing the weighted average duration of issued T-bills from 22 March to 16 June to 5.5 months, from 9.8 months (from 1 January to 15 March). Given Egypt’s current 1-year USD credit default swap at 808 bps, and given the Egypt-US inflation differential, we believe interest on 12M T-bill rates should increase to the north of 16.0% to reflect the 300 bps rate hike undertaken so far, to translate to a real interest of 0.27% from -1.73% currently, before resorting to hiking rates further. That said, we expect the MPC to keep rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 19 May, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to increase key policy rates by 200 bps after increasing it by 100 bps in March and following the Federal Reserve Bank’s (Fed) decisions to increase the interest rate by 25 bps in March and by 50 bps in May. The Fed also said that it is likely to increase interest rate by 50-75 bps in its next meeting in July. Egypt’s annual headline inflation accelerated to 13.5% in May from 13.1% in the previous month, with monthly inflation increasing 1.1% m-o-m, compared to an increase of 3.3% m-o-m in April, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

HC expects the CBE to increase interest rates by 0.5-0.75 bps

  • HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled March 24th and based on Egypt’s current situation, they expect the CBE to increase interest rates by 0.5-0.75 bps

Head of macro and financials at HC, Monette Doss commented: “We raise our 2022e inflation estimate to 11.5% from 7.2% previously on increasing international prices of wheat and oil and our expectation of less importation of consumer goods that could lead to some supply shortages. Our calculations are based on Bloomberg 2022 consensus wheat price estimate of USD1,086/bushel, c53% higher than its 2021 average price of USD712/bushel and consensus Brent price estimate of USD91.7/barrel, c55/% above its 2021 average of USD59/barrel. We also expect new regulations requiring letters of credit (LCs) for most imported goods to ultimately result in less importation of consumer goods, possibly leading to some supply shortages and imposing some inflationary pressures. On a different front, our calculations suggest that carry-trade currently requires a 12M T-bill rate of 14.8% (162 bps higher than the latest auction) based on; (1) Egypt’s current 1-year USD credit default swap of 560 bps, (2) Bloomberg 2022 consensus estimate for the Federal Reserve rate at 1.55%, and (3) Egypt-USA 2022 inflation differential of 544 bps (given our Egypt 2022e inflation estimate of 11.5% and Bloomberg USA 2022 inflation estimate of 6.1%). We believe that carry trade is key at the moment to support Egypt’s net international reserves (NIR), more so with the banking sector’s net foreign liability (NFL) position widening to USD11.5bn in January and possibly worsening further as net foreign portfolio outflows reached USD2.3bn since the beginning of the Russia-Ukraine war. That said, we expect the MPC to increase interest rates by 0.5-0.75 bps in its upcoming meeting.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 3 February, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the tenth consecutive time. Egypt’s annual headline inflation came in at 8.8% in February, with monthly inflation increasing 1.6% m-o-m, compared to an increase of 0.9% m-o-m in January, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

HC expects the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged

  • HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled February 3rd 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: “Egypt’s inflation remains largely contained towards the lower end of the CBE target range of 7% (+/-2%) for 4Q22. We, however, expect inflation to average 7.0% in 1Q22, as we expect a pick up in food and gasoline prices reflecting global inflationary pressures. We continue to believe that carry trade is essential for supporting Egypt’s net international reserves (NIR). More so as demonstrated by the net foreign liability (NFL) position of the Egyptian banking sector (excluding the CBE), which increased to USD7.12bn in November from USD USD4.8bn in the previous month. Accordingly, we perceive continued pressure to maintain the current levels of Egyptian treasuries interest rate. Currently, Egyptian treasuries offer a real return of c4% (given 12M T-bill rate of 13.2%, taxes for US and EU investors of 15%, and our 2022e inflation forecast of 7.2%). Even though the US Federal Reserve might start increasing interest rates in March, US 2-year notes are expected to offer a negative real return of -2.2% given Bloomberg consensus estimates of 2022 2-year notes rate of 1.4% and average US inflation of 3.6% over 2022-23. Currently, Turkey offers a real return of 3.8% on our calculations (based on its 2-year note rate of 22.6%, zero taxes on Turkish treasuries, and Bloomberg inflation consensus estimates of 18.8% on average over 2022-23). We note that Egypt’s credit default swap (CDS) is currently at 550 bps, just above Turkey’s CDS of 527 bps. Accordingly, we believe that Egypt’s carry trade remains attractive at the current levels, and with inflation remaining within the CBE’s target range, we expect the CBE to maintain rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 16 December, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the ninth consecutive time. Egypt’s annual headline inflation came in at 5.9% in December, with monthly inflation decreasing 0.1% m-o-m, reversing an increase of 0.1% in November, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS).

HC: we expect the CBE to keep interest rates unchanged

HC Securities & Investment shared their expectations on the likely outcome of the MPC meeting scheduled October 28th 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: “Egypt’s inflation remains within the CBE target range of 7% (+/-2%) for 4Q22, and we expect it to average 5.9% in 4Q21. We, however, believe that rising international prices of oil and other commodities impose significant inflationary pressures domestically, especially in light of recent official announcements of the government’s intention to reduce its subsidy bill. Globally, monetary tightening is coming on the scene, with Federal Reserve officials indicating they could start tapering stimulus spending before year-end. At the same time, the Bank of England Governor recently announced that the Central Bank should act to counter rising inflation. We believe that the prospects of global monetary tightening reflected in some mild interest rate pressures on Egyptian 12-months T-bill yields, which increased by 13bps since the beginning of October. We also note that Egyptian banks’ net foreign liability position widened to USD4.44bn in August from USD1.63bn in July. This should also impose upward interest rate pressures on Egyptian treasuries, in our opinion. Currently. However, Egyptian 12-months T-bills continue to offer attractive real return of c3% (given our 2022e inflation forecast of c8% and 15% taxes for European and US investors). This is compared to c4% offered by Turkey (based on the recent 9-months T-bill rate of 18.25%, zero taxes, and Bloomberg 1-year inflation estimate of c14). That said, we expect the MPC to keep rates unchanged in its upcoming meeting.

It is worth mentioning that, in its last meeting on 16 September, the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) decided to keep rates unchanged for the seventh consecutive time. Egypt’s annual headline inflation came in at 6.6% in September, with monthly inflation increasing 1.1% m-o-m compared to an increase of 0.1% m-o-m in August, according to data published by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS). With the MPC due to meet on 28 October, we present our expectations on the likely outcome based on Egypt’s current situation.

Interest rates to remain unchanged by the CBE, according to HC’s expectations

  • 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).