*** ----> European stocks up as ECB cuts rate | THE DAILY TRIBUNE | KINGDOM OF BAHRAIN

European stocks up as ECB cuts rate

AFP | London

The Daily Tribune - www.newsofbahrain.com

Europe’s main stock markets were up but pared some gains yesterday as the European Central Bank cut interest rates for the first time since 2019 while warning that inflation would remain sticky.

Wall Street, meanwhile, was mixed at the open, a day after hitting fresh records as leading chip-maker Nvidia’s market capitalisation topped $3 billion. Paris, Frankfurt and London were all in the green as the ECB lowered its key deposit rate by a quarter point to 3.75 percent, though markets dialled back earlier gains as the bank warned that inflation would remain sticky.

“Any celebrations about today’s 25bp (basis point) rate cut by the ECB are likely to be muted at best,” said Andrew Kenningham, chief Europe economist at Capital Economics. He said “the decision was fully discounted by financial markets and the most recent inflation and wage data have dampened expectations for a rapid easing cycle.”

“Moreover, the Bank’s forecasts and statements are slightly hawkish,” Kenningham said, using a term used for the policy of raising interest rate. In an updated forecast, the ECB hiked its inflation forecasts for this year and next.

It no longer expects inflation to hit its two-percent target in 2025, as previously expected, but rather to come in at 2.2 percent. ECB president Christine Lagarde then warned at a press conference that the path of future rate cuts was “very uncertain” and that there would be “bumps on the road”.

The ECB’s accompanying statement “arguably gave less guidance than might have been expected on what comes next”, said Deutsche Bank economist Mark Wall.

“In that sense, the immediate tone is a ‘hawkish cut’. This is not a central bank in a rush to ease policy,” he added. The ECB began to hike rates to combat inflation in mid-2022, after the US Federal Reserve and Bank of England, but it did not wait for its US and British peers to begin cutting them.

“The ECB has stolen a march on the Bank of England and Federal Reserve who are both potentially still a few months away from cutting and will breathe life into an economy that desperately needs some form of stimulus,” said Lindsay James, investment strategist at Quilter Investors. The Fed holds its next policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday.