ECB raises rates as planned despite banking turmoil
FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank raised interest rates by 50 basis points on Thursday as promised, ignoring financial market chaos and calls by investors to dial back policy tightening at least until sentiment stabilises.
The ECB has been raising rates at its fastest pace on record to curb inflation, but a rout in global markets since the collapse of Silicon Valley Bank in the United States last week had threatened to upend those plans at the last moment.
In line with its often-repeated guidance, the central bank for the 20 countries that share the euro lifted its deposit rate to 3%, the highest level since late 2008, as inflation is seen overshooting its 2% target through 2025.
But it offered no commitments for the future, despite previous calls by a long list of policymakers for more big moves in the fight against inflation.
“The elevated level of uncertainty reinforces the importance of a data-dependent approach to the Governing Council’s policy rate decisions,” the ECB said.
On Thursday morning, after days of turmoil in markets, financial investors had seen a 50% chance of a smaller, 25 basis point move by the ECB. They have also dialled down expectations for future moves, forecasting the peak rate at 3.25%, below the 4.1% priced last week.
Euro zone bank shares have been in freefall this week, spooked first by SVB’s collapse, then a plunge in the value of Credit Suisse, a lender that has long been dogged by problem.
But the Swiss National Bank threw Credit Suisse a $54 billion lifeline overnight, a big enough show of force to send its shares back up around 20% and lift other bank stocks.—Reuters