Cape Town. 100219. South Africa is coming out of its first recession in almost two decades reasonably rapidly, says Reserve Bank Governor Gill Marcus. Marcus also said monetary policy remains directed towards containing inflation. The central bank has cut rates by 500 basis points since December 2008, and left the repo rate flat at 7,0% at its last four meetings. Picture Mxolisi Madela

South Africa's Reserve Bank left its benchmark repo rate unchanged at 5.0 percent on Thursday despite acknowledging that the economy is in stress, citing a deterioration in the inflation outlook.

All 22 economists polled by Reuters last week said the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Committee would leave rates unchanged at 40-year lows, with nearly half expecting the next move most likely in late 2013 or the beginning of 2014.

The central bank has left rates unchanged at all its policy meetings this year except for July, when it decided on a surprise cut of 50 basis points. - Reuters