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ABUJA, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Nigeria’s central bank held its benchmark interest rate at 14 percent on Tuesday and said the recovery of Africa’s biggest economy from its first recession in a generation remained fragile.
Governor Godwin Emefiele said eight committee members had voted to hold the main rate, while one voted for a cut. All other policy parameters were kept unchanged.
“Inflation in particular requires very close monitoring to gain clarity on the medium-term optimum path of monetary policy,” Emefiele told a news conference.
All 15 analysts polled last week said rates would be held at 14 percent, with cuts of up to 100 basis points expected in either July or September 2018.
Official data on Tuesday showed growth of just 1.4 percent in the third quarter.
Among other risks for Nigeria, Emefiele cited low fiscal buffers.
The OPEC member’s economy shrank by 1.5 percent in 2016, its first annual contraction in 25 years. The recession was largely caused by low oil prices since the country relies on crude oil sales for around two-thirds of government revenue.
“Mr. Emefiele’s hints about future monetary easing were pretty clear. It seems that policymakers are waiting for a more substantial fall in inflation before starting to lower interest rates,” said Capital Economics analyst William Jackson.
Inflation is slowing but remained at an elevated 16 percent on an annual basis in October. At the media conference Governor Emefiele said he was optimistic consumer price-growth would moderate to one-digit levels in 2018. (Reporting by Mfuneko Toyana; Writing by Alexander Winning)