June 8, 2020 / 9:27 AM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-Kazakhstan's central bank keeps policy rate unchanged

(Adds details, context)

ALMATY, June 8 (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s central bank kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 9.5% on Monday, saying it could consider easing monetary policy when global uncertainty decreases.

The bank cut its inflation outlook for this year to 8.0%-8.5% and forecast a gross domestic product contraction of 1.8%, deeper than its previously expected 1.3% fall.

Kazakhstan’s economy has been hit hard by the drop in energy prices amid the coronavirus pandemic which prompted a two-month lockdown from March to May.

Although the oil-exporting nation posted an estimated $1.2 billion current account surplus in the first quarter, the bank said it expected the indicator to turn negative later this year, putting “significant pressure” on the tenge currency.

The bank will next review its policy rate on July 20. (Reporting by Olzhas Auyezov; Editing by Hugh Lawson and Ed Osmond)

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