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EU Central Banks Meet Ahead of Rate Decision

A Report by CYS Global Remit Counterparty Sales & Alliance Unit 



The Eurozone, comprising 19 of the 27 European Union member states, represents on of the world’s largest economic blocs. Established with the introduction of the euro currency in 1999, it aimed to foster economic integration and stability among its member nations. The European Central Bank (ECB) oversees monetary policy for the Eurozone, striving to maintain price stability and support sustainable economic growth. Despite its unified currency, member states maintain distinct fiscal policies and economic structures, contributing to both strengths and challenges within the Eurozone.  


Over the years, the Eurozone has weathered various economic crises, including the sovereign debt crisis and the global financial crisis, prompting efforts to strengthen economic governance and financial resilience. While the Eurozone benefits from shared access to a large market and common currency, it also faces ongoing challenges related to economic disparities, political tensions, and structural reforms. As a key player in the global economy, developments with the Eurozone have significant implications for financial markets and economic stability worldwide.  


European Central Bank monetary policy decision  

The European Central Bank (ECB) is anticipated to announce its latest monetary policy decision this week, with prevailing expectations pointing towards the maintenance of interest rates at their current levels. However, notable voices within the ECB’s governing council have been vocalizing a preference for commencing a managed cycle of rate reductions, a move likely to begin in June. This call for action stems from mounting pressures on the ECB to address persistently high interest rates, particularly as economic growth continues to falter and inflation trends downwards, edging closer to the bank’s targeted levels. With the ECB’s own projections indicating a potential return to target inflation levels only by the latter part of 2025, there is an increasing pressure for rate cuts to align with the bank’s mandate of ensuring price stability.  


Market analysts are anticipating a more emphatic tone in the ECB’s upcoming statement, akin to the pre-commitment stance observed in June 2022 regarding future rate hikes. Despite the widespread expectation of rate cuts being factored into market sentiment, the actual impact of such decisions on market reactions remains uncertain and could potentially be more restrained than anticipated.  


Lack of bulls driving the Euro  

Although there have been slight signs of recovery in the euro, bullish factors driving its value upwards are still notably lacking, with only marginal improvements observed in sentiment and confidence indicators like the ZEW index. For further appreciation of the EUR/USD pair, market participants are closely eyeing a potentially more dovish stance from the Federal Reserve. However, such prospects seem unlikely in the wake of strong non-farm payroll data. Nevertheless, a significant deviation from expectations in CPI figures could sway the short-term outlook.  


Moving forward, the ECB’s policy decision precedes the release of critical US CPI data, which is poised to offer crucial insights into inflationary trends and their potential impact on the Federal Reserve’s (Fed) monetary policy trajectory. Furthermore, the Federal Open Market Committee (FOMC) meeting minutes may shed light on the central bank’s prevailing sentiments, although recent economic data may have already influenced some of the opinions expressed during the March meeting. Comments from Fed officials, such as Governor Michelle Bowman’s emphasis on the need for disinflation to precede any consideration of rate cuts, underscore the cautious approach being adopted by the central bank.  


Defensive stance for the EUR/USD  

During the early session this week, the EUR/USD pair maintained a defensive stance, largely influenced by unexpected growth in US CPI inflation data for March. This unexpected uptick propelled the USD to yearly highs, placing downward pressure on the major pairing. Market focus has now shifted towards the ECB’s interest rate decision and subsequent press conference, alongside the release of the US Producer Price Index (PPI) report.  


Market consensus suggests that the ECB will maintain interest rates at record highs during its April meeting, but ECB president Christine Lagarde is expected to address inflation data and the potential for a rate cut in June. Conversely, the Fed may postpone its easing cycle this year due to the robust economy and unexpected inflationary pressures. Despite the ECB’s commitment to independent policy setting, diverging interest rates trajectories between the Fed and ECB could exert selling pressure on the EUR and pose significant challenges for the EUR/USD pair.  


The unexpected surge in US inflation data for March prompted speculation that the US central bank might delay interest rate cuts, driving the greenback to fresh yearly highs. According to the US Labor Department, the US Consumer Price Index (CPI), which includes month-on-month (MoM), year-on-year (YoY) and Core CPI all returned data that surpassed its initial estimates, surpassing all expectations. Later in the week, market participants will await the release of the US Producer Price Index for March, and weekly Initial Jobless claims, offering further insights into the central bank’s perspective.  

 

What can we expect from the ECB  

The European Central Bank is expected to maintain rates as anticipated, as such, attention will shift to President Lagarde’s press conference post-announcement. Lagarde has been cautious, emphasizing the importance of sustaining rates higher for longer to mitigate the risk of renewed price pressures, and highlighting policymakers’ reliance on data. However, if there is genuine contemplation of a rate cut in June, groundwork for such a move would need to be laid in this meeting.   


Initially, the Euro might appreciate in response to the new, but historically speaking, rate cuts tend to depreciate the currency. EUR/USD could turn bearish should the European Central Bank cut rates before the Federal Reserve. While it might be premature to anticipate such a move, if Lagarde provides clearer indications of forthcoming cuts, the market will react accordingly. 

 

 

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