Fed and ECB go their separate ways

Mon Mar 6, 2017 2:02am EST
 
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By Balazs Koranyi

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Two of the world's biggest central banks are likely to find themselves with a bigger policy gap by the end of the coming fortnight

The European Central Bank on Thursday will resist calls to start tightening policy against surging inflation but robust U.S. jobs data on Friday could seal the case for another Federal Reserve hike the week after.

So, let's say minus 0.4 percent rates in Europe and more than 0.75 percent in Washington.

With just weeks to go before contentious French and Dutch elections, the ECB will be keen not to rock the boat, so it is likely to give just a token nod to robust growth figures, steering clear of any policy hint that may give emerging populist movements ammunition.

A Reuters poll showed unanimity for no change. [ECB/INT]

But the balancing act may be more difficult than it looks.

With growth on its best run since before the financial crisis and inflation peeking just above the ECB's target, calls are mounting, particularly in Germany, for the bank to scale back its 2.3 trillion euro ($2.42 trillion) bond buying scheme and raise its negative interest rates.

Doves hold a comfortable majority among the policymakers, however, so any shift will come at the margins. In practice that could mean increased inflation forecasts, letting an ultra-cheap lending scheme to banks expire as scheduled, and dropping a reference to the risk that growth may disappoint.   Continued...

 
FILE PHOTO:President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi and U.S. Federal Reserve chair Janet Yellen speak before the G20 finance ministers and central bankers family portrait during the IMF/World Bank 2014 Spring Meeting in Washington April 11, 2014.   REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photo