ECB’s Lane backs possible rate cut by June -CNBC

By Thomson Reuters Mar 14, 2024 | 6:34 AM

FRANKFURT (Reuters) – The European Central Bank will learn enough in the second quarter about where inflation is heading for policymakers to decide when to start cutting interest rates, its chief economist Philip Lane said on Thursday.

ECB policymakers have been lining up in support of a rate reduction in the coming months, with some even raising the prospect of back-to-back cuts in June and July, as euro zone inflation falls faster than the central bank had anticipated.

Lane, one of the most influential voices on the ECB’s Governing Council, appeared to back a move by June but cautioned against making predictions about what will happen later.

“I think that Q2 is a time when we will be far enough into 2024 to see more of the wage dynamic to see more of the price pressures,” he told CNBC.

On the timing of a first cut, Lane repeated ECB President Christine Lagarde’s comment that the ECB “will learn some more by April …(and) a lot more by June” and added that he wouldn’t “overanalyse” the merits of moving at one meeting or the other.

His Greek colleague Yannis Stournaras earlier told Bloomberg he would support cuts at both ECB meetings, on June 6 and July 18, followed by two more by the end of the year.

Sources told Reuters last week some policymakers had floated the idea of successive moves in June and July.

But Lane warned against venturing further into the future.

“We have to go decision by decision and, for me, I don’t think I should look beyond the next meeting or two,” he said.

The rate the ECB pays on bank deposits, currently used as its benchmark, is at a record-high 4.0% but investors are pricing in three or four cuts by the end of the year, taking it to 3.0%-3.25%

(Reporting By Balazs Koranyi and Francesco Canepa; Editing by Catherine Evans)