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'Small' or 'determined'? ECB policymakers spar on rate hikes

·2-min read
FILE PHOTO: FILE PHOTO: Illumination at ECB headquarters for the Euro's 20th anniversary in Frankfurt, Germany

LISBON (Reuters) -Two European Central Bank policymakers gave diverging views about the size of the ECB's future rate hikes on Thursday, pointing to some disagreement over whether last week's jumbo increase should be repeated.

The ECB raised rates by an unprecedented 75 basis points a week ago and President Christine Lagarde hinted at another two or three rises at the coming meetings to fight record-high inflation.

But ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos and Portugal's central bank governor Mario Centeno appeared to differ on Thursday about the size of the next moves.

De Guindos said the ECB should continue to take "determined action", repeating the adjective used by Lagarde to describe last Thursday's hike.

"Determined action is essential to keep inflation expectations anchored, which in itself contributes to delivering price stability and avoids second-round effects in inflation," he said at an event in Lisbon.

Centeno, however, said the central bank should take "as small steps as possible" in raising rates so as not to destabilise the economy.

"A clear tightening or even too abrupt a normalisation... could unwarrantedly destabilise the transmission mechanism and the real economy," Centeno told the same event.

"Monetary policy must remain predictable and acting at the margin in as small steps as possible."

Inflation hit 9.1% last month and the ECB expects it to stay at similar levels for months and not return anywhere near its 2% target until 2024.

Sources have told Reuters ECB policymakers saw a rising risk they will have to raise their key policy rate to 2% or higher, from 0.75% currently.

Banks including Deutsche Bank and BofA expect another 75 basis point rate hike from the ECB at its Oct. 25 meeting.

(Reporting By Sergio Goncalves; Writing by Francesco Canepa; Editing by Jon Boyle and Tomasz Janowski)