Bank Indonesia to stay put till year-end, cut in Q2 2024: Reuters poll

By Veronica Dudei Maia Khongwir

BENGALURU (Reuters) – Bank Indonesia (BI) will follow its regional peers and leave its interest rate unchanged on Oct. 19, staying on the sidelines for longer than previously expected, a Reuters poll found.

With inflation at a 19-month low of 2.28% in September, firmly within BI’s 2-4% target range, all 36 economists in the Oct. 10-16 Reuters poll said the central bank would leave its seven-day reverse repurchase rate at 5.75% on Thursday for the ninth consecutive meeting.

However, a weakening rupiah – down around 7.5% from a 2023 high of 14,560 per dollar hit on May 4 – was likely to keep the central bank from easing anytime soon.

Earlier this month, the central bank intervened in the foreign exchange market and bought government bonds to stabilise the rupiah.

“BI along with most global central banks are just going to try and wait out the volatility we have seen in global markets recently, particularly in the U.S. Treasury markets,” said Lavanya Venkateswaran, senior ASEAN economist at OCBC Bank.

“More so because the currency has been under some pressure and there has been a relative underperformance compared to regional peers in the last week or so.”

While nearly 80% of economists, 23 of 29, predicted BI would keep rates at 5.75% for the year, median forecasts showed the first 25 basis point cut to come in Q2 2024.

Just a month ago, the consensus was for policy easing to start in Q1 2024.

“We only expect BI to cut rates if there has been a clear signal/forward guidance from the Fed that it would begin to ease policy. This may not happen until around Q2 next year or later,” wrote Barra Kukuh Mamia, senior economist at Bank Central Asia.

Indonesia’s economy is forecast to expand 5.0% this year, down from 5.3% in 2022, but within the BI’s growth target range of 4.5%-5.3%. It is expected to again grow 5.0% in 2024.

(For other stories from the Reuters global economic poll:)

(Reporting by Veronica Dudei Maia Khongwir; Polling by Milounee Purohit and Anant Chandak; Editing by Christina Fincher)