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ECB’s June 6th Decision: What You Need to Know

Plus500 | Thursday 06 June 2024

Amid strong economic headwinds on the continent, the European Central Banks expected to conclude its latest monetary policy meeting on June 6th, followed by a press conference. Let’s take a look at what analysts are expecting the Eurozone’s top policymakers to decide and how this may affect the markets:

ECB’s June 6th Decision: What You Need to Know

Policy Turnaround in the Works?

The ECB is expected by savvy market watchers to make a cut to interest rates for the first time in five years today. With many key European economies struggling to move toward sustainable GDP growth, this move may be expected to provide significant relief to the region’s economy. This anticipated decision comes amid considerable uncertainty regarding the number of future cuts. Investors have dramatically reduced their expectations for cumulative rate cuts this year from their December peak, now predicting around 60 basis points.

At the moment, the ECB’s deposit rate stands at 4%. Today’s rate cut will be notable as it marks the first instance in over two decades where the ECB has lowered borrowing costs in response to a traditional easing of inflation pressures rather than a financial crisis impacting the currency union.

This decision represents a significant victory for ECB President, Christine Lagarde, who has often faced criticism for her perceived lack of central banking expertise. However, the battle against inflation is far from over. In May, headline inflation accelerated for the first time this year to 2.6 percent, surpassing analysts' expectations. Higher-than-anticipated wage growth and robust economic output have maintained the risk of inflation remaining above the ECB's target for longer than acceptable.

Analysts generally anticipate that ECB staff will slightly raise their growth and inflation forecasts, maintaining the view that the ECB will meet its 2% inflation target. However, they have cautioned that underlying pressures, especially in services prices, could prompt a further upward revision in the September forecast round.

Simultaneously, stronger-than-expected price pressures in the United States, which are likely to keep the Federal Reserve in a holding pattern concerning interest rate reductions, may put a spoke in the wheel of the ECB's easing ambitions. Diverging significantly from the Fed could negatively impact the euro. Austrian National Bank chief, Robert Holzmann, has highlighted these challenges, while other hawks, such as executive board member, Isabel Schnabel, have warned against hastily initiating a series of cuts.

Conversely, doves like Bank of Italy’s, Fabio Panetta, emphasise the risk of maintaining an overly tight policy when Europe has just emerged from a recession. Panetta and ECB chief economist, Philip Lane, have noted that tighter U.S. policy and financial conditions have mixed implications.

Financial markets will look to Lagarde's press conference for clues about future interest rate trajectories, but analysts suggest they might be disappointed. Some experts opine that while the ECB should keep the option of further easing open if data permits, it should avoid committing to another cut in September.

Euro’s Position on Forex Markets

Ahead of today’s ECB decision, traders may be looking to see where key Forex pairs stand at the moment and how they may shift in reaction to the Eurozone’s top monetary policymaking institution’s expected move. 

As of the time of writing, the EUR/GBP pair stands at 0.85059, above the 0.8500 support level, as investors await the European Central Bank's interest rate decision. The pair has seen relatively little movement over the course of recent trading sessions, with market participants closely watching ahead the ECB's anticipated 25 basis point rate cut and the bank’s guidance on future monetary policy.

Despite the expected rate cut, ECB officials are cautious about committing to a specific rate-cut path due to unexpectedly high inflation. The Eurozone’s Harmonized Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) for May exceeded estimates, with underlying inflation reaching a seven-month high of 4.1%. This has led ECB officials to maintain a data-dependent approach, holding off on further rate cuts for now.

In contrast, the UK's persistent wage growth continues to pose challenges for the Bank of England (BoE) in shifting towards policy normalisation. The market expects the BoE to start reducing interest rates by August, but higher wage growth could keep inflationary pressures elevated, delaying such moves.

Meanwhile, the EUR/USD pair has increased by over 0.2% since the beginning of the month to 1.08745 as of the time of writing, despite a recovery in the value of the greenback. The news expected out of Frankfurt later today, June 6th, could shift this trajectory as well.   The divergence in monetary policy between the ECB and the Fed has the potential to raise pressure on Euro traders to sell. Speculation about potential Fed rate cuts in September is on an uptrend at the moment. Despite stronger-than-expected US ISM Services PMI data for May, which supports the USD, the focus now shifts to the US Nonfarm Payrolls (NFP) data, expected to show a 185,000 increase in jobs for May, potentially lifting the USD further and capping gains for EUR/USD.

In Conclusion

All in all, although experts and analysts seem to be in broad consensus regarding the direction in which the ECB will move concerning interest rates, traders and investors alike will have to wait for the final decision. Economic difficulties have made the role of central banks across the globe far from simple, and the potential effects on Forex market trends over the near term are as yet unknown.


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