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Malaysia

Ringgit expected to stay stable against US dollar

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  • The Malaysian ringgit is projected to remain stable against the US dollar, influenced by both domestic and international factors.
  • Malaysia's economic growth and strategic fiscal reforms have bolstered investor confidence and supported the ringgit's performance.
  • The US Federal Reserve's interest rate policies will play a crucial role in the ringgit's future stability, with potential rate cuts providing a positive outlook.

The Malaysian ringgit is projected to maintain a tight range against the US dollar, reflecting a complex interplay of domestic economic policies and international financial dynamics. As of early June 2024, the ringgit's performance has been a focal point for investors and policymakers alike, with various factors contributing to its stability.

Economic Growth and Investor Confidence

Malaysia's economic growth has been a significant driver of the ringgit's performance. The country has seen higher economic activity in the first quarter of 2024, driven by resilient domestic expenditure and strategic fiscal reforms. According to the Finance Ministry, the ringgit recorded the best performance against the US dollar among ten regional currencies as of mid-May 2024. This performance is attributed to the government's efforts to attract foreign direct investments (FDIs) and encourage government-linked companies (GLCs) to repatriate income from foreign investments.

Impact of US Federal Reserve Policies

The US Federal Reserve's interest rate policies have a profound impact on the ringgit. The Fed's decision to hold rates at a 23-year high has created a challenging environment for the ringgit. However, recent signals from the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) suggest that the period of interest rate hikes may be coming to an end, which could provide some relief for the ringgit. Finance Minister II Datuk Seri Amir Hamzah Azizan expressed optimism that the ringgit would strengthen throughout the year if the Fed begins to lower interest rates.

Monetary Policy and Inflation Control

Bank Negara Malaysia (BNM) has maintained the overnight policy rate (OPR) at three percent since May 2023, a level deemed appropriate to facilitate economic growth without exacerbating inflation. Malaysia's inflation rate remains low, with the consumer price index (CPI) showing a modest increase of 1.5 percent in December 2023. This stable inflation environment supports the ringgit's value and provides a buffer against external economic shocks.

Market Sentiment and Future Outlook

Market sentiment plays a crucial role in the ringgit's performance. Analysts suggest that the ringgit's stability is partly due to the government's narrative of effective economic measures and the anticipation of favorable US monetary policies. However, the situation remains volatile, with potential risks from further US interest rate hikes and global economic uncertainties.

Mr. Lee Heng Guie, an economist and executive director of the Socio-Economic Research Centre, emphasized that the key factor for the ringgit's future performance is the US Fed rates. He noted that any further increase in US interest rates could spell trouble for the ringgit, while a rate cut could significantly boost its value.

The Malaysian ringgit is expected to remain in a tight range against the US dollar, influenced by a combination of domestic economic policies and international financial conditions. The government's efforts to attract investments and maintain economic stability, coupled with the Federal Reserve's interest rate decisions, will be critical in determining the ringgit's trajectory in the coming months.

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