The European Central Bank will boost borrowing costs to a peak of 4 per cent in September, according to a survey of economists who’re becoming more hawkish as inflation proves to be stubborn. Such an outcome would mean two more quarter-point moves “- starting with one on July 27, as the ECB has widely telegraphed. The analysts polled by Bloomberg had previously predicted that the deposit rate would reach a maximum of 3.75 per cent.
Behind their change in opinion is a worsening outlook for inflation. While price gains in the 20-nation euro zone will moderate in the coming months, they won’t do so as quickly as previously expected. What’s more, inflation in 2025 is now seen at 2.1 per cent “- up from 2 per cent before.
Core price growth “- the focus in Frankfurt even as headline inflation fades “- is seen a touch lower this year than earlier. But the 2024 and 2025 projections have risen to and 2.8 per cent and 2.4 per cent. The latter number exceeds the ECB’s own projection for that year.
The results come as a debate at the ECB over the end point of its unprecedented bout of hikes heats up. Some officials refuse to rule out an extension of the campaign beyond the summer, though several worry about the economy, which is struggling to exit the mild recession it fell into during the winter.
Policymakers reject talk of a hard landing and analysts concur, predicting advances of 0.2% in gross domestic product in each quarter after the first and maintain their outlook for growth of 1 per cent and 1.6 per cent in 2024 and 2025. Despite that optimism, they expect the first cut in interest rates to come in April 2024.