The European Central Bank has left its main interest rate unchanged at 1.25 per cent but is expected to confirm a bias towards another increase in coming months as it combats surging eurozone inflation.
The decision to hold fire on Thursday was expected. Jean-Claude Trichet, president, prefers not to surprise financial markets. However, at its meeting in Helsinki, Finland – one of two occasions each year when it gathers outside its Frankfurt home – the ECB’s 23-strong governing council is thought to have plotted the timing of its next move. Read more
The odds were firmly in favour of a rate hold, and the Bank of England has not disappointed us. More interesting will be the voting pattern, when it is released on May 18.
Annual inflation in the UK is running at 4 per cent, a welcome fall from 4.4 per cent earlier this year. Read more
Rate normalisation continues in the Philippines, despite the Japanese earthquake. Key rates have been increased by a quarter of one per cent, with the overnight lending (repo) and borrowing (reverse repo) rates standing at 6.5 and 4.5 per cent, respectively. Manila started raising rates only recently: the last rate rise – a quarter point in March – was the first since 2008.
“In deciding to increase policy rates anew, the Monetary Board noted that the latest baseline inflation forecasts continue to suggest that the 3-5 percent inflation target for 2011 remains at risk, mainly as a result of expected pressures from oil prices,” said the Bank. Annual inflation in the year to April edged up to 4.5 per cent, within the government target but at the upper end.
John Williams, the new president of the San Francisco Fed, has delivered his first speech. It wasn’t a thriller but I guess his term will be long enough that he need not hurry to excite the markets.
Mr Williams stuck to mainstream Fed thinking but he did set down a few markers. He forecast that growth will bounce back to above 3 per cent for Q2, that total growth for 2011 will be about 3.25 per cent, and that unemployment will end the year at 8.5 per cent. He also sets out his preferred inflation objective of 2 per cent – putting him with the large majority of the FOMC. Read more