Economists split on MAS tightening: Survey

The MAS is the only central bank in a major developed nation to use the exchange rate as its main tool.
The MAS is the only central bank in a major developed nation to use the exchange rate as its main tool. PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE (BLOOMBERG) - Economists are split on whether the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) will change its policy stance in April amid subdued inflation pressure.

Four of seven economists see the central bank shifting to a tightening stance next month, according to a Bloomberg survey conducted from March 13 to 16. The MAS opened the door to a possible move in its October policy meeting, after easing three times between January 2015 and April last year.

The MAS is the only central bank in a major developed nation to use the exchange rate as its main tool. All four economists who projected an April tightening in the latest survey see the central bank adjusting the slope, rather than the width or centre, of the currency band, which it does not disclose.

Low rates of unemployment and a pickup in global demand are kindling inflation pressures in developed nations around the world, prompting more central banks to begin tightening monetary policy, including in Asia.

In Singapore, policymakers are faced with an "expansionary" budget that will underpin a recovering economy, albeit one with weak inflation.

Consumer prices were unchanged in January from a year ago, and economists surveyed by Bloomberg predict price growth of just 0.4 per cent in February, ahead of the government release on Friday.