Friday, 14 October 2011

Singapore eases monetary policy as IMF downgrades Asian growth and European ratings suffer more cuts

Last week, the Bank of England eased monetary policy with inflation at 4.5 percent, more than twice its target.

Today, the Monetary Authority of Singapore went one better by easing monetary policy with inflation at 5.7 percent, a three-year high. Channel NewsAsia reports the latest MAS action:

The MAS says it will continue with the policy of a modest and gradual appreciation of the S$NEER policy band in the period ahead.

It adds that given the expected moderation in core inflation, the slope of the policy band will be reduced, with no change to the width of the band and the level at which it is centred.

The MAS move comes as the Singapore economy returned to growth in the third quarter, growing at an annualized rate of 1.3 percent after contracting by 6.3 percent in the previous quarter.

Elsewhere in Asia, the Bank of Korea had left interest rates unchanged on Thursday.

Asian central banks have mostly moved away from tightening action as economic prospects have dimmed. On Thursday, the IMF lowered its forecast for Asian growth to 6.3 percent in 2011 and 6.7 percent in 2012, down from 6.8 percent and 6.9 percent respectively in April's report.

Even China may not escape the slowdown. Data on Thursday showed that China's trade surplus narrowed in September as exports slowed sharply to a 17.1 percent year-on-year rise compared to 24.5 percent in August. Growth in imports also slowed sharply to 20.9 percent from 30.2 percent.

Meanwhile, another trade report showed that the US trade deficit narrowed slightly in August as exports fell 0.1 percent while imports were flat.

The debt situation in Europe is obviously weighing on prospects for the global economy as credit ratings continue to get cut. Standard & Poor's cut Spain's rating to AA- on Thursday, while Fitch cut the ratings for UBS, Lloyds and RBS and put many other banks on negative watch.

On a positive note, Slovakia formally approved the plan to bolster the European Financial Stability Facility.

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