KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysia’s central bank has raised its benchmark interest rate for the first time in three years to curb inflation and household debt as economic growth picks up.

Bank Negara Malaysia says it has decided to raise its overnight policy rate, used by banks to set lending rates, by a quarter percentage point, to 3.25 percent.

The rate was last raised in May 2011.

It says the change in monetary conditions was needed to “mitigate the risk of broader economic and financial imbalances” that could undermine economic growth.

It said Thursday the economy, which grew 6.2 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, is expected to remain on a steady growth path.

It said inflation, which rose to 3.2 percent in May, is above average but contained.

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