ECB delivers seventh consecutive rate hike

·3-min read
FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters in Frankfurt

LONDON (Reuters) - The European Central Bank eased the pace of its interest rate hikes on Thursday and kept its options open on future moves as it continues its fight sticky inflation.

The 25-basis-point increase to the ECB's three policy rates was the smallest since it started lifting them last summer and the central bank did not explicitly commit to further hikes.

ECB President Christine Lagarde will hold a press conference starting at 1245 GMT.

MARKET REACTION:

BONDS: Germany's 10-year bond yield was last up around 1 basis points (bps) at around 2.25%, having traded 3 bps higher at 2.28% just before the decision.

Italy's 10-year yield was up 4 bps at 4.17%.

FOREX: The euro was down almost 0.4% to $1.1016. It was at $1.1081 just before the ECB statement.

STOCKS: The Europe-wide STOXX 600 index was last down 0.5%, trimming earlier falls.

COMMENTS:

CARSTEN BRZESKI, GLOBAL HEAD OF MACRO, ING, FRANKFURT:

"Today’s decision signals that the ECB has entered the final stage of its current tightening cycle. In the current, very complicated macro environment with the lagged impact from previous hikes, banking turmoil, and subdued growth but still sticky inflation, the ECB will tread more carefully."

MARCHEL ALEXANDROVICH, EUROPEAN ECONOMIST, SALTMARSH ECONOMICS, LONDON:

"They obviously scaled down the size of the move but the message has not changed much from March.

"The message the ECB is trying to send to the markets is that they have more work to do. This is not a repeat of what we saw from the Fed yesterday. They will raise rates again.

"The news on the APP was in line with expectations, the focus for markets will be what happens to PEPP re-investments."

MICHAEL BROWN, MARKET ANALYST, TRADERX, LONDON:

"This afternoon's policy decision was largely as expected, with the ECB downshifting to a 25bps hike to all key policy rates, while also maintaining a hawkish bias in reaffirming that future policy decisions will make rates "sufficiently restrictive", and remain there as long as necessary.

"The decision to curtail balance sheet run-off in July is perhaps a consolation for the hawks, some of whom may have sought a 50bps move at this meeting, though it is clear that rates remain the ECB's primary tool.

"One would expect a resolute and hawkish tone from Lagarde at the press conference, with inflation clearly far too high for the ECB's liking, cementing their place as one of the last hawks in the G10 town, and providing a medium-term tailwind for the EUR.

"Fundamentally, however, nothing in today's statement changes the market's long-held view, that the ECB will continue to hike long after the FOMC have paused, as suggested by both persistently high inflation, and resilient activity data."

BEN LAIDLER, GLOBAL MARKETS STRATEGIST, ETORO, LONDON

"This slowdown is not a pause, and the bank still has further hikes to go.

"The ECB is dealing with a triple cocktail of 1) still stubbornly high 7% inflation, 2) an economy resiliently dodging recession, and 3) the consequences of its late hiking cycle start less than a year ago.

"This hawkish exceptionalism will support the Euro rally for now but may ultimately be cut short by the speedier global growth slowdown we see around the corner. Driven by the lagged impact of higher global interest rates, the current banking system scare, and coming US debt ceiling slowdown, Europe remains the most vulnerable to any global growth shortfall."

(Reporting by the Markets Team; Compiled by Dhara Ranasinghe)