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PREVIEW-Indonesia seen holding key rate in wake of Fed decision
December 14, 2016 / 4:43 AM / a year ago

PREVIEW-Indonesia seen holding key rate in wake of Fed decision

* All 23 analysts in poll see policy rate held at 4.75 pct

* BI decision due hours after U.S. Fed meeting ends

* Indonesia benchmark has been cut 6 times in 2016

* Decision due on Thursday, Dec 15, after 0700 GMT

By Gayatri Suroyo

JAKARTA, Dec 14 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s central bank is widely expected to keep its main policy rates on hold on Thursday, just hours after the Federal Reserve concludes a meeting at which it is expected to raise U.S. interest rates.

A Fed rate hike, which would be the first in a year, could lure more capital away from emerging markets such as Indonesia.

Earlier this year, Southeast Asia’s largest economy enjoyed relatively high inflows into its stock and bond markets, but the country is vulnerable to capital outflows.

Some funds left the country after Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the U.S. election in November.

Intervention by Bank Indonesia (BI) to stabilise the rupiah was one main factor Indonesia’s foreign exchange reserves dropped by $3.5 billion in November.

All 23 analysts in a Reuters poll expect BI to keep its benchmark interest rate on hold Thursday at 4.75 percent, where it has been since a cut in October.

“Were it not for the fact that the Fed is likely to hike interest rates... we would have pencilled in another (BI) rate cut for this Thursday,” Capital Economics, a consultancy, said in a Dec. 9 note.

October’s cut was BI’s sixth this year, by a total of 150 basis points (bps), in an effort to accelerate economic growth.

But the 5.02 percent growth recorded in the third quarter, a slowdown from April-June, highlighted Indonesia’s struggle to mount a solid rebound.

Last year’s growth of 4.8 percent was the weakest since 2009. BI’s forecast for 2016 growth is 5.0 percent, while its outlook for 2017 is 5.0-5.4 percent.

Out of seven analysts in the poll who gave forecasts for the benchmark at the end of March, four saw it remaining 4.75 percent, two projected a 25 bps cut and one predicted a quarter-percentage point hike.

Citigroup is among those seeing BI on hold through March. Economist Helmi Arman said its general view is that the policy rate “is already at the end of the cutting cycle”. (Editing by Richard Borsuk)

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