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ECB survey shows moderating inflation expectations

The logo of the European Central Bank is pictured outside its headquarters in Frankfurt

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro zone consumer expectations for inflation finally declined in November, ending prolonged rise as soaring food and energy prices made everyday life more expensive, a European Central Bank survey showed on Thursday.

Inflation hit double digits late last year but has now appeared to peak and the ECB's focus is slowly shifting from stopping its rise to just how quickly it can get it back down to its 2% target.

Median inflation expectations over the next 12 months dropped to 5% in November from 5.4% a month earlier while expectations for price growth three years ahead fell to 2.9% from 3%, the ECB said based on a survey of about 14,000 adults in six of the euro zone's biggest countries.

Indicating a big dispersion in responses, the average expectation for the year ahead was at 7.3%, however, well above the median figure.

ECB projections see price growth falling back to 3.6% in the final quarter of 2023 but disinflation would then sharply slow and the bank is not seen hitting its 2% target until the second half of 2025.

Improved inflation expectations came as consumers were also more optimistic about the euro zone economy.

They now see it shrinking by 2% in the 12 months ahead after a 2.6% contraction seen in October, according to an average estimate. The median estimate meanwhile stayed unchanged at -0.1%.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)