Malaysia cbank holds interest steady as expected


* Central bank holds rates unchanged at 2.0 pct

* Says pace of recovery gaining momentum

* Says inflation expected to remain modest in 2010

* Says current monetary policy stance appropriate

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Reuters) - Malaysia's central bank held interest rates steady at 2.0 percent on Tuesday for a sixth straight time, and said the pace of recovery in the domestic economy was gaining momentum and inflation was expected to remain modest in 2010.

The widely-expected decision comes as Asia's third-most trade dependent economy is recovering from an economic slump triggered by the global financial crisis. A pick-up in domestic demand helped the economy to contract less-than-expected 1.2 percent in the third quarter. [ID:nKLR502806]

"As price pressures and inflation expectations are expected to remain contained going forward, the assessment is that the current monetary policy stance is appropriate and will continue to provide support for economic activity," the central bank said in a statement.

A Reuters poll showed 15 economists saying rates would be held at 2 percent with the earliest sign of a hike coming after the first half of next year. [ID:nKLR511819]

CHRONOLOGY OF MOVES (*Note BNM sets rates 10 times a year)

Date Action (bps) To (OPR, pct) ------------------------------------------------------ Nov 24, 2009 no change 2.00 Oct 28, 2009 no change 2.00 Aug 25, 2009 no change 2.00 July 29, 2009 no change 2.00 May 26, 2009 no change 2.00 Apr 29, 2009 no change 2.00 Feb 24, 2009 Down 50 2.00 Jan 21, 2009 Down 75 2.50 Nov 24, 2008 Down 25 3.25 Apr 26, 2006 Up 25 3.50 Feb 22, 2006 Up 25 3.25 Nov 30, 2005 Up 30 3.00


- The central bank has cut the benchmark OPR by a total of 150 basis points since November in an attempt to reduce the impact of the global downturn on the local economy. It stopped easing in April and has repeatedly said that rates are "appropriate" and that rate cuts had been "frontloaded".

- Inflation is not a worry as consumer prices have turned negative. It fell by 1.6 percent in October on an annual basis and inflation is not expected to return until the end of the year. ((Reporting by Denny Thomas and Royce Cheah;) ((; +60 3 2333 8047; Reuters Messaging:

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