Citing War Uncertainty, Bank of Israel Keeps Rates Steady at 4.5%

February 26, 2024, 10.48 PM | Source: Reuters
Citing War Uncertainty, Bank of Israel Keeps Rates Steady at 4.5%

ILUSTRASI. Israeli national flag. Pictures taken April 23, 2020 REUTERS/Amir Cohen TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

ISRAEL - JERUSALEM. The Bank of Israel kept interest rates steady on Monday after cutting by a quarter-point in January, citing uncertainty over expected duration of the war in Gaza.

The central bank said the war was having "significant economic consequences, both on real activity and on the financial markets".

"There is great uncertainty with regard to the expected severity and duration of the war, which is in turn affecting the extent of the impact on activity," its statement said.

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Israel's war against Palestinian militant group Hamas began on Oct. 7.

Analysts polled by Reuters were split ahead of the decision, with seven expecting no move and seven projecting another 25 basis point reduction.

The central bank kept the benchmark rate at 4.5%.

Prior to January's cut, it had raised rates 10 straight times in an aggressive tightening cycle from a all-time low of 0.1% in April 2022, before pausing last July.

Israel's inflation rate eased to 2.6% in January, within the annual target range of 1%-3%.

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The economy contracted by an annual 19.4% in the fourth quarter, reflecting the toll of the war with Hamas, to end 2023 with growth of 2%.

"Indicators of economic activity and the state of employment point to a gradual recovery following the sharp decline that took place with the outbreak of the war, but there is variance between industries," the central bank said.

Editor: Yudho Winarto

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