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| 15 February, 2018

Egypt's central bank cuts key rates as inflation eases

The Egyptian central bank cut its key interest rates by 100 basis points on Thursday

The headquarters of Egypt's Central Bank are seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt January 11, 2018.

The headquarters of Egypt's Central Bank are seen in downtown Cairo, Egypt January 11, 2018.

REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

CAIRO - The Egyptian central bank cut its key interest rates by 100 basis points on Thursday, the first time since a currency float in 2016, as inflation rates hit their lowest levels in at least a year.

The bank, at a monetary policy meeting, cut its overnight deposit rate to 17.75 percent from 18.75 percent and its overnight lending rate to 18.75 from 19.75 percent, it said in a statement.

Since it floated the pound in Nov. 2016, the bank has raised overnight rates by 700 basis points to combat soaring inflation, generating an unprecedented appetite for Egypt's domestic debt, but slowing down badly needed foreign direct investment.

Annual urban consumer price inflation eased to 17.1 percent in January from 21.9 percent the previous month, while annual core inflation, which strips out volatile items, fell to 14.35 percent from 19.86 percent.

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Eight out of 10 economists polled by Reuters said earlier this week the bank would cut the key rates. urn:newsml:reuters.com:*:nL8N1Q24C8

Egypt's economy has been struggling since 2011 when a political uprising drove tourists and foreign investors away, but economic reforms tied to a three-year International Monetary Fund (IMF) deal signed in 2016 have led to positive economic indicators.

(Reporting by Arwa Gaballa; Editing by Sami Aboudi and Andrew Heavens) ((mailto:arwa.gaballa@thomsonreuters.com; +20 2 2578 3290;))