Egypt's central bank leaves rates unchanged

Credit: REUTERS/MOHAMED ABD EL GHANY

Adds details from MPC statement, background

CAIRO, April 2 (Reuters) - Egypt's central bank left its main interest rates on hold on Thursday, two weeks after slashing them by three percentage points at a surprise meeting as a "preemptive" move to support the economy in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

In a statement, the bank said it had kept the overnight lending rate at 10.25% and the overnight deposit rate at 9.25% on Thursday.

All but two of 11 analysts polled by Reuters had expected the bank to keep rates steady. The other two analysts had forecast a 100 bps cut.

The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) said after its regular meeting that the earlier pre-emptive rate cut was sufficient to support businesses and households, and that it would continue to pursue its inflation target range of three percentage points above or below 9% by the fourth quarter of 2020.

Inflation declined to 5.3% in March from 7.2% in February and gross domestic product grew by a steady 5.6% in the second half of 2019.

"The COVID-19 outbreak as well as the associated containment measures induce a considerable disruption to economic activity and financial markets globally," the MPC said in its statement accompanying the decision.

(Reporting by Nadine Awadalal, Ehab Farouk and Ulf Laessing; Editing by Kirsten Donovan Editing by Alison Williams)

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