Philippine central bank seen keeping rates steady, may eye 2017 tightening

September 19, 2016 10:56 PM EDT

A logo of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) is seen at their headquarters in Manila, Philippines April 28, 2016. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

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MANILA (Reuters) - The Philippine central bank is expected to keep its benchmark interest rate steady on Thursday but may turn hawkish next year if inflation picks up and the Federal Reserve tightens policy, a Reuters poll showed.

The median forecast from the poll of 12 economists suggest the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas will hold its key rate at 3.0 percent on Thursday, and some predicted no change in rates for the rest of the year.

The ceiling and floor rates in its interest rate corridor will also be kept at 3.5 percent and 2.5 percent, respectively, according to the poll.

At least one economist raised the possibility of a cut in the reserve requirement ratio on Thursday to further operationalize the central bank's interest rate corridor system.

Lower oil prices and adequate rice supplies have helped keep inflation subdued. In January to August, annual inflation averaged 1.5 percent, below the central bank's 2-4 percent target for this year and next.

The Philippine central bank has not changed its monetary policy stance since a 25-basis-point rate hike in September 2014.

(Reporting by Enrico dela Cruz; Writing by Karen Lema; Editing by Kim Coghill)

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