Inflation and interest rate relief expected for South Africa

Lesetja Kganyago

South African inflation expectations for the next two years declined, signalling progress in the Reserve Bank’s efforts to rein them in before its policy meeting later this month.

Average inflation expectations two years ahead – which the bank’s monetary policy committee uses to inform its decision-making – fell to 4.9% in the second quarter from 5.2% previously, according to a survey released on Friday by the Stellenbosch-based Bureau for Economic Research.

All social groups, including analysts, businesspeople, and labour officials, lowered their inflation forecasts for the entire three-year horizon BER surveys, it said. 

“On average, they now anticipate inflation of 5.3% in 2024, 5% in 2025, and 4.9% in 2026,” it said. “Their five-year inflation forecast fell below 5% to 4.9% for the first time since the fourth quarter of 2021.”

The drop will help ease concerns expressed by the MPC at its last meeting that inflation expectations remain above the 4.5% midpoint of the bank’s target range, where it prefers to anchor them.

The reading, coupled with easing inflation pressures, may pave the way for interest rates to be lowered later this year.

For now, however, analysts expect the MPC will leave the key interest rate at 8.25% for a seventh straight meeting on July 18.

Forward-rate agreements are pricing in just a 20% chance of a 25-basis-point rate cut this month and an 80% probability of a similar reduction by the next MPC meeting in September.

The contracts are priced in 37 basis points of cuts by year-end.

Governor Lesetja Kganyago has been cautious in proclaiming an end to the MPC’s inflation fight. He’s repeatedly said the MPC won’t cut rates until inflation is firmly at 4.5%.

The survey respondents still expect the prime overdraft rate – which banks use to lend to consumers – to fall by 50 basis points this year to 11.25%.


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