March 14, 2020 / 3:04 AM / 24 days ago

Philippine central bank ready to support growth amid coronavirus outbreak

MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine central bank stands ready to deploy any or all of its policy tools even as it said the fast-spreading coronavirus would not severely cut the country’s growth momentum, its governor said late Friday.

The central bank is widely expected to cut interest rates at its meeting on Thursday and economists believe it will likely ease policy further to cushion the blow of coronavirus on one of Asia’s fastest growing economy.

“The Monetary Board is ready to deploy any or all its policy tools, as appropriate, to address all challenges to our own financial markers and growth prospects,” central bank Governor Benjamin Diokno said in a statement.

The Philippines targets an economic growth of 6.5% to 7.5% this year, but government officials had said the coronavirus outbreak could trim it down to 5.5% to 6.5%.

The central bank lowered the rate on its overnight reverse repurchase facility PHCBIR=ECI by 25 basis points to 3.75% in February, the fourth such move since it began reversing policy rate hikes in 2018 to bolster the economy.

Reporting by Karen Lema and Neil Jerome Morales; Editing by Michael Perry

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