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Egypt's central bank cut its benchmark interest rates by 300 basis points to support economic activity given the current "challenging external environment" while the outlook for inflation remains consistent with reaching the inflation target.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) cuts its overnight deposit rate, the overnight lending rate, the rate on the main operation and the discount rate to 9.25 percent, 10.25 percent, 9.75 percent and 9.75 percent, respectively.

The rate cut, taken at an unscheduled meeting by the monetary policy committee, is the first by CBE since November 2019 when it paused after cutting rates six times and by a total of 650 basis points since February 2018.

Including today's rate cut, CBE has now cut its rate by 950 basis points in two years.

Egypt's inflation rate eased to 5.3 percent in February from 7.2 percent in January, and CBE targets inflation of 9.0 percent, plus/minus 3 percentage points by the fourth quarter of 2020.