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Indonesia central bank seen raising rates on Thursday as rupiah wilts

Sha Ying | CNBC

Indonesia's central bank is expected to raise interest rates on Thursday in its latest attempt to defend the plunging rupiah, which has slid some 12 percent so far this year amid a global emerging markets rout.

Interest rates, the slowing economy and inflation are all likely to be on the agenda at the meeting, which was announced late on Tuesday.

Bank Indonesia held rates steady at a board meeting on Aug. 15, and its next monthly meeting had not been scheduled until Sept. 12. But declines in the rupiah and local stocks had begun to accelerate over the last week.

(Read more: Indonesia is latest emerging market whipping boy)

Economists said emergency fiscal and monetary measures announced last week have done little to end concern over Indonesia's economic outlook in the face of an expected move by the U.S. Federal Reserve to start paring back stimulus that has triggered a prolonged wave of cheap funds into emerging markets.

"Tomorrow, we will seek to review our economy, inflation, exports-imports, banking and financial markets," Deputy Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo told reporters on Wednesday.

(Read more: An Asian economy's huge move to lure capital back)

"We will also review all instruments that we have, whether interest rates, the exchange rate and deepening the forex market."

The board normally only meets once a month to decide its benchmark interest rate. At the last meeting, it kept the rate at 6.5 percent but lowered the upper band of its loan-to-deposit ratio and increased the secondary reserve requirements.

Five out of seven analysts polled by Reuters expected BI to raise the benchmark rate by between 25-50 basis points (bps) on Thursday.

All seven expected a 25 to 100 bps hike in the overnight deposit facility rate, or FASBI, to help prop up the rupiah.

(Read more: Goldman downgrades emerging Asia currencies)

The currency has fallen to its weakest levels since April 2009 as worries about the country's current account deficit and high inflation rate have sparked a sell-off of Indonesian assets.

In June and July, BI raised its policy rate a total of 75 bps. While leaving the rate unchanged on Aug. 15, it lowered the upper band of loan-to-deposit ratio to discourage lenders from massively expanding credit.

The central bank is also struggling to calm inflation, which is running at 4-1/2 year highs.

(Read more: Rate hike a pre-emptive strike: Indonesia official)

Finance Minister Chatib Basri told parliament that he expected month-on-month inflation in August would ease to 1.27 percent from 3.29 percent in July when it shot up after a big hike in fuel prices. The August data will be released on Sept. 2.

"(Annual) inflation would be 9.2 percent (at end of the year). In August, we expect 1.27 percent (month-on-month) and (the rate) would return to normal in September," Basri said.

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