The South African Reserve Bank (SARB) governor Lesetja Kganyago is seen during the SARB Biennial Conference in the Cape Town International Convention Centre, in Cape Town, South Africa, August 31, 2023. REUTERS/Esa Alexander

PRETORIA, Nov 23 (Reuters) – South Africa’s central bank kept its main lending rate unchanged at 8.25% in a unanimous decision by its monetary policy committee (MPC) announced on Thursday.

It was the third meeting in a row that the bank has left its repo rate on hold. All economists polled by Reuters had forecast that the rate would be left unchanged.

Inflation rose sharply to 5.9% year-on-year in October from 5.4% in September, approaching the upper end of the central bank’s target range of 3%-6%.

“The uptick in inflation is unwelcome,” central bank Governor Lesetja Kganyago told a news conference, referring to October’s data. He also said “serious upside risks” to the inflation outlook remained.

Analysts expect the central bank to cut interest rates in early 2024, but some have warned it might delay its easing cycle until later over high inflation.

The South African Reserve Bank’s MPC has said it wants to see inflation sustainably around the midpoint of its target range before considering rate cuts.

(Reporting by Kopano Gumbi, Anait Miridzhanian and Tannur Anders; Writing by Bhargav Acharya Editing by Alexander Winning)