MAS to release six-monthly policy statement earlier than usual
The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will release its six-monthly monetary policy statement slightly earlier than usual on March 30, amid economists' expectations that an easing in monetary policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic is on the cards.
News that the statement will be made ahead of the usual April directive also comes as core inflation last month hit a decade-low.
It fell into negative territory for the first time since January 2010, as the virus outbreak sent airfares and holiday expenses slumping, opening the door to an easing in monetary policy that economists predict will come soon.
OCBC Bank's head of treasury research and strategy Selena Ling noted: "The pressure is on. Many global central banks have made emergency moves in recent days. They will not be the first and they definitely don't want to be among the last."
She said analysts expect full-year overall and core inflation forecasts to flatline this year, with the second to third quarter readings likely to be negative.
Ms Ling said MAS is also refreshing its inflation forecasts, previously at 0.5 to 1.5 per cent. Analysts project that the range will be between -0.5 and 0.5 per cent.
Core inflation, which excludes the costs of accommodation and private road transport, fell sharply to -0.1 per cent year-on-year last month, from 0.3 per cent in January, MAS and the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI) said yesterday.
Overall inflation also came in lower at 0.3 per cent last month on a year-on-year basis, compared with 0.8 per cent in January.
MAS and MTI said that in the quarters ahead, external sources of inflation are likely to remain benign amid weak demand conditions and generally well-supplied food and oil commodity markets.
"Oil prices declined sharply in March and could stay depressed for an extended period amid the global economic slowdown and an anticipated rise in oil supply," they said.