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Half-point European central bank rate hike by July is coin toss

‘I don’t think ECB will feel pressured to hike 50 basis points, but markets may try to do the same as they did with Fed,’ said Piet Christiansen.
Image: Bloomberg

Money-market wagers have crossed half the way toward calling a historic half-point European Central Bank rate hike as soon as July.

Traders have priced in 37.5 basis points of tightening to the central bank’s rate by next month’s meeting, implying a 50% chance of a half-a-percentage point increase, which would be the first since 2000.

Such a hike is already baked in by September, assuming the deposit rate is kept steady on Thursday with 134 basis points of rate hikes expected by year-end. It’s a far cry from the start of the year when inflation was expected to be transitory and traders were betting on just 15 basis points of tightening this year.

“I don’t think ECB will feel pressured to hike 50 basis points, but markets may try to do the same as they did with Fed,” said Piet Christiansen, chief strategist at Danske Bank in a client note.

The ECB has come under huge pressure after the region’s inflation extended a record surge in May, climbing to more than four times the central bank’s target of 2%.

While ECB officials have long signaled that a quarter-point hike is coming, some Governing Council members have suggested that a bigger hike is possible. Robert Holzmann said Wednesday that record high inflation strengthens the case for a half-point hike in July, which would also support the euro’s exchange rate.

Sensing the urgency, strategists at Bank of America last week predicted the ECB will raise rates by half a point in July and September followed by two quarter-point increases at the year’s final two policy meetings.

© 2022 Bloomberg

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