MILAN, March 6 (Reuters) – Policy decisions after an increasingly likely 50 basis point (bps) hike in interest rates expected later this month must be based on data, European Central Bank (ECB) Governing Council member Mario Centeno was quoted as saying on Monday.
“We need to look very carefully at what the March forecast will be. This is the most important data we will have to guide our future decisions,” Centeno told daily La Stampa.
On Sunday, ECB President Christine Lagarde said that underlying inflation in the euro zone would stay high in the near term, making a 50 bp hike later this month increasingly certain.
The ECB has already raised rates by 3 percentage points since July and essentially promised another half a percentage point increase on March 16.
“If you ask me what will happen after March, I think it is important to take seriously the estimates that we will have in a few days,” Centeno noted, adding that the process of raising the main interest had been too fast.
“This has never happened before, it has never gone so fast. We need some patience to allow these 300 basis points of increase to have an impact on inflation, because that is our main goal,” he said.
(Reporting by Federico Maccioni, editing by Cristina Carlevaro, Kirsten Donovan)