Emerging central banks hike rates in March

Emerging market central banks delivered five net interest rate hikes in March, marking the end of an easing cycle which started in 2019 as central banks in the developing world grapple with rising inflation pressures.

Across a group of 37 central banks in developing economies, policy makers in Ukraine, Georgia, Brazil, Turkey and Russia raised interest rates, many delivering bigger hikes than expected. This follows a total of two net interest rate cuts in February.

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Analysts said the recent rise in global bond yields had pushed some central banks into normalising record-low interest rates.

“We expect several LatAm (Latin American) economies to start to tighten as well,” said S&P Global Ratings analysts in their monthly report.

“Curves are pricing in hikes over the next 12 months in several other countries, including Colombia, Chile, Mexico, and the Philippines (and more hikes in Brazil and Russia).”

The tally between rate cuts and hikes across the group of 37 according to Reuters calculations has been negative or zero since February 2019. This has been the longest easing cycle since the 2008 financial crisis and the 2010 euro crisis.

At the peak of the easing cycle in March last year, 27 of the 37 central banks cut interest rates, trying to protect their economies as the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic rippled through markets around the world.