According to ECB President Christine Lagarde, the European Central Bank (ECB) could continue to raise its key interest rates beyond March. "At this stage, it is possible that we will continue on this path," she said on Spanish television on Thursday. However, nothing can currently be said about the size of the conceivable interest rate hikes.
After some hesitation and a subsequent series of significant interest rate hikes, the central bank has already held out the prospect of a 0.5 percentage point tightening rate for its meeting in two weeks. What happens after that is still open. The financial markets currently assume that the ECB could raise the key monetary policy deposit rate from the current 2.5 percent to around 4 percent in about a year.
Asked about the interest rate summit, i.e. the maximum interest rate targeted by the ECB, Lagarde said: "The really honest answer is that it is determined by the data." Key interest rates would have to rise to such a level that would slow down economic momentum. They could only be lowered again once it was ensured that inflation would return to the medium-term inflation target of two percent.
In the euro area, high inflation has tended to fall in recent months, but recently only slowly. In February, the inflation rate fell from 8.6 to 8.5 percent, as the statistical office Eurostat announced on Thursday. Analysts had expected a lower rate of 8.3 percent on average. Inflation in the eurozone reached its record high last autumn at 10.6 percent.