Malaysia bank holds interest rates to support growth

Malaysia's central bank on Thursday kept its key interest rate unchanged as the country's economy continued to grow in the face of global uncertainty.

With inflation expected to remain moderate, Bank Negara said its monetary policy committee decided to hold the Overnight Policy Rate (OPR) at 3.0 percent, describing its move as "accommodative and supportive of the economy".

It has kept the rate steady since July 2011.

"The global economy is expected to continue to experience slow growth. There continues to be uncertainties surrounding the growth prospects of the advanced economies," the bank said in a statement.

Southeast Asia's third-largest economy, resource-rich Malaysia relies heavily on exports of commodities such as palm oil and energy products, as well as electronics and other manufactured goods.

Among its key partners are the United States, European Union, Singapore, Japan and China.

Malaysia's economy grew a faster than expected 5.4 percent in the second quarter as robust domestic demand helped offset the impact of the global economic woes.

Bank Negara has previously forecast full-year growth between four and five percent this year, slower than the 5.1 percent seen in 2011.

Inflation moderated to 1.7 percent in the second quarter from 2.3 percent in the previous period, the central bank had said.

Prime Minister Najib Razak, who must call fresh elections by mid-2013 and faces a strengthening opposition, has set a goal of Malaysia becoming a "high-income developed nation" by 2020.

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