MEXICO CITY (1) – Mexico’s central bank on Thursday lowered its benchmark rate of interest to the bottom in 3-1/2 years, hinting more cuts could possibly be on the horizon and warning the coronavirus pandemic’s results will probably be felt more strongly within the second quarter.

The five-member governing board of Banxico, because the Bank of Mexico is understood, unanimously voted to scale back the important thing fee by 50 basis factors to five.50%, the bottom since November 2016.

Banxico mentioned it should act on the basis of incoming information to make sure curiosity rates are according to its inflation goal, noting that the coronavirus disaster was having “a big influence on productive exercise” and inflicting a monetary shock.

“Though the magnitude and length of the results of the pandemic are nonetheless unknown, these are anticipated to accentuate throughout the second quarter, and to lead to a big contraction of employment,” Banxico mentioned in a press release.

Annual inflation in Mexico slowed to 2.15% in April from 3.25% a month earlier, reaching the bottom fee since 2015 and going under the central bank’s 3.0% goal fee.

Banxico famous that short-term expectations for headline inflation have decreased, including that within the medium to long run they had been pretty steady, and above 3.0%.

Capital Economics mentioned it anticipated Banxico to trim the coverage fee to 4.50% over the subsequent six months, saying the board would proceed cautiously and doubtless transfer in steps of 50 basis factors reductions and even scale it again to 25-point cuts.

“This was a bit more of a hawkish minimize. … We predict that there’s additional scope for Banxico to trim curiosity rates with out risking strain on the peso and triggering capital outflows,” mentioned Edward Glossop, economist at Capital Economics.

Some personal analysts see Latin America’s second largest financial system contracting by as much as 10% or more this yr.

Finance Minister Arturo Herrera steered in a newspaper interview printed earlier on Thursday that the central bank had room for cuts, with rates nicely above a lot of the world.

Banxico warned that challenges for financial coverage posed by the pandemic included each “the unprecedented influence on financial exercise” and the monetary turbulence it was inflicting.

The Mexican Social Safety Institute (IMSS) on Tuesday reported that 555,247 formal jobs had been misplaced in April because of the coronavirus disaster.

A significant widening of the damaging output hole and falling vitality costs are the principle draw back dangers to inflation, the bank mentioned. In the meantime, a bigger and protracted depreciation of the peso and attainable disruptions to provide chains and distribution of some items and providers represent upside dangers.

“On this context, the stability of dangers for inflation stays unsure,” Banxico mentioned.

Reporting by Anthony Esposito; Extra reporting by Frank Jack Daniel, Dave Graham, David Alire Garcia and Richard Chang