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Hong Kong's de facto central bank raises base rate after Fed hike

Key Points
  • The move comes as officials in Hong Kong, which tracks U.S. rate moves because its currency is pegged to the greenback, have warned of the impact of rising interest rates on the city's homeowners.
  • Late last week, the Hong Kong dollar experienced a sudden, sharp spike that some market watchers attributed to expectations of a rise in bank lending rates and tightness in cash supplies.
  • Ultra low interest rates, limited supply and big flows of capital from Chinese buyers resulted in housing prices rising by 165 percent over a decade.
The Hong Kong Monetary Authority is displayed outside Two International Finance Centre in Hong Kong on June 19, 2013.
Jerome Favre | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) raised its base rate by 25 basis points on Thursday to 2.50 percent, in lockstep with a widely expected move by the U.S. Federal Reserve overnight.

The move comes as officials in Hong Kong, which tracks U.S. rate moves because its currency is pegged to the greenback, have warned of the impact of rising interest rates on the city's homeowners.

The financial hub has one of the least affordable housing markets in the world, although an expected surge in borrowing costs has led some analysts to forecast a drop of 10-15 percent in property prices.

Ultra low interest rates, limited supply and big flows of capital from Chinese buyers resulted in housing prices rising by 165 percent over a decade, prompting repeated warnings from authorities about asset bubble risks.

Late last week, the Hong Kong dollar experienced a sudden, sharp spike that some market watchers attributed to expectations of a rise in bank lending rates and tightness in cash supplies.

In June, the HKMA raised the base rate by 25 basis points to 2.25 percent and the central bank's chief warned that mortgage rates in the former British colony would have to rise in the longer term.

The monetary authority sets its base rate through a formula that is 50 basis points above the prevailing U.S. Fed Funds Target or the average of the five-day moving averages of the overnight and one-month Hong Kong Inter-bank Offered Rate.