Poland: NBP holds fire on rates at March meeting
The National Bank of Poland (NBP) kept the reference rate unchanged at a record-low 1.50% at its 6–7 March monetary policy meeting, in line with market expectations. In addition, the Bank held the Lombard rate unchanged at 2.50%, the deposit rate at 0.50% and the rediscount rate at 1.75%. With March’s decision, the Bank has now kept the reference rate unchanged for three years.
Strong economic activity, declining inflation and an accommodative stance by the ECB underpinned the Bank’s decision. Annual GDP growth accelerated in the fourth quarter on the back of buoyant consumer spending and recovering fixed investment. According to available data, economic activity continued to expand at a strong rate in the first quarter of 2018: Retail sales grew robustly in January, boosted by increasing wages and low inflation. Meanwhile, industrial production soared in year-on-year terms in the same month, benefiting from buoyant external and domestic demand. Moreover, business confidence hovered around a multi-year high in the first two months of the year.
Despite strong economic activity, inflation dropped to a five-month low of 1.9% in January from 2.1% in December, thus moving further below the NBP’s 2.5% target. Moreover, core inflation remained low. The Bank considers that growth will likely moderate this year and next, although it should remain robust. It also projects inflation will remain close to its target range of 2.5% plus or minus one percentage point. As the Bank considers the current level of interest rates consistent with macroeconomic stability and sustainable growth, it implicitly suggested that it will maintain its current monetary policy stance in the near future.
The next monetary policy meeting is scheduled for 10–11 April.