Egypt: Central Bank Keeps Key Interest Rates Unchanged

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the new headquarters of Central Bank of Egypt, at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt December 8, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the new headquarters of Central Bank of Egypt, at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt December 8, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo
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Egypt: Central Bank Keeps Key Interest Rates Unchanged

FILE PHOTO: A general view of the new headquarters of Central Bank of Egypt, at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt December 8, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo
FILE PHOTO: A general view of the new headquarters of Central Bank of Egypt, at the New Administrative Capital (NAC) east of Cairo, Egypt December 8, 2023. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

Egypt's central bank kept its overnight interest rates steady on Thursday, as expected, saying that while economic growth had slowed, rising non-food inflation had offset a steady decline in food inflation.
The meeting of the central bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) was its first since Egypt signed an $8 billion financial support agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in March, when it hiked rates by 600 basis points (bps).
The MPC on Thursday left the lending rate unchanged at 28.25% and the deposit rate at 27.25%, it said in a statement.
The hold was widely expected, with only one of 19 analysts in a Reuters poll forecasting that the MPC would lower rates.
Interest rates are still well below the headline inflation rate, which was running at 32.5% in April. Inflation has declined from a record 38% in September.
"Forecasts indicate that inflation has already peaked and thus is expected to moderate in 2024 as inflationary pressures begin to subside," the MPC said in a statement accompanying the interest rates decision.
The MPC said economic growth had slowed to 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2023 from 4.2% a year earlier and that indicators suggested growth would remain subdued in the first quarter of 2024.
The central bank raised interest rates on March 6 as part of its agreement with the IMF, bringing total increases since the beginning of the year to 800 bps.
As part of the IMF agreement, Egypt allowed its currency to tumble to under 50 to the dollar after having fixed it at 30.85 for a year. The Egyptian pound has since strengthened to about 47.1 to the dollar.



Saudi Aramco, NextDecade Sign 20-year LNG Supply Deal

At the signing ceremony, from left: NextDecade Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Schatzman, Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi, and Aramco Executive Vice President of Gas Abdulkarim Al-Ghamdi. Photo: Aramco website
At the signing ceremony, from left: NextDecade Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Schatzman, Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi, and Aramco Executive Vice President of Gas Abdulkarim Al-Ghamdi. Photo: Aramco website
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Saudi Aramco, NextDecade Sign 20-year LNG Supply Deal

At the signing ceremony, from left: NextDecade Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Schatzman, Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi, and Aramco Executive Vice President of Gas Abdulkarim Al-Ghamdi. Photo: Aramco website
At the signing ceremony, from left: NextDecade Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Matthew Schatzman, Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi, and Aramco Executive Vice President of Gas Abdulkarim Al-Ghamdi. Photo: Aramco website

Saudi Aramco and US liquefied natural gas (LNG) provider NextDecade announced on Thursday that their respective subsidiaries have executed a non-binding Heads of Agreement (HoA) for a 20-year liquefied natural gas sale and purchase agreement (LNG SPA) for offtake from Train 4 at the Rio Grande LNG Facility at the Port of Brownsville, Texas.

Under the terms of the HoA, Aramco expects to purchase 1.2 million tons per annum (MTPA) of LNG for 20 years on a free-on-board basis at a price indexed to Henry Hub. Aramco and NextDecade are currently in the process of negotiating a binding agreement, and once executed, the effectiveness of which will be subject to a positive Final Investment Decision on Train 4.

"We look forward to finalizing the terms of a long-term LNG offtake agreement with NextDecade as we explore opportunities to expand our presence in international energy markets,” said Aramco Upstream President Nasir K. Al-Naimi.

“We expect LNG to play an important role in meeting the rising demand for secure and efficient energy,” he added.

NextDecade Chairman and CEO Matt Schatzman said: “We are pleased to have reached a Heads of Agreement with Aramco for LNG from Train 4, as Aramco seeks to expand its LNG portfolio. We look forward to finalizing the LNG SPA with Aramco and to pursuing other opportunities together.”