UPDATE 1-Egypt's central bank cuts interest rates by 300 basis points

(Adds details, background)

CAIRO, March 16 (Reuters) – Egypt’s central bank slashed its main interest rates by 300 basis points at an unscheduled meeting on Monday, saying it was making a “preemptive” move to support the economy in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The bank cut the overnight lending rate to 10.25% from 13.25% and the overnight deposit rate to 9.25% from 12.25%, it said in a statement.

“The MPC’s preemptive decision provides appropriate support to domestic economic activity given the current challenging external environment, while the inflation outlook remains consistent with achieving the inflation target of 9 percent (±3 percentage points) in 2020 Q4,” the statement said.

“The MPC will continue to closely monitor all economic developments and will not hesitate to adjust its stance to achieve its price stability mandate over the medium term.”

The central bank’s monetary policy committee had not been due to meet until April 2 to set interest rates. It had held rates steady at its past two meetings after cutting them by 350 basis points between August and November last year.

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