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Danske Bank and Barclays chop ECB rate cut forecasts

Danske Bank said it expects the European Central Bank only to cut interest rates twice this year, not three times, while Barclays also scrapped a call for a July reduction.

Markets currently show traders are pricing in around 60 basis points’ worth of cuts that would bring the ECB’s benchmark interest rate to around 3.4% by December.

Piet Haines Christiansen, Danske chief analyst and a closely followed ECB watcher, said in a note he expected a “political cut” in June, but nothing in September.

“We have revised our ECB rate path for the first time in more than 12 months and now expect the ECB to deliver two rate cuts this year (June and December), and three cuts next year. This will bring the deposit rate at 2.75% by the end of 2025,” he said.

It was Danske’s first change to its forecast in more than a year and Christiansensaid his team expected the ECB to repeat its meeting-by-meeting and data-dependent approach to monetary policy beyond June.

“The updated June staff projection is expected to suggest that the prevailing economic and monetary policy narrative stays broadly unchanged and we expect the rate cut to be formulated as a roll-back of the ‘insurance hike’ from September last year,” Christiansen added.

Markets had expected at least five rate cuts in 2024 just a few months ago, but traders have since revised those estimates due to a stickness in inflation and some bumper recent pay deals that suggest it could stay that way.

Analysts at Barclays had also changed their ECB call late on Thursday due to the “elevated uncertainty” around inflation and with economic activity accelerating faster than anticipated.

“We now think the ECB Governing Council will move more gradually this year.”

“We continue to expect 25 basis points of cuts at each forecast meeting (Jun-Sep-Dec), but no longer expect a cut at July’s nonforecast meeting,” they added, referring to the fact the ECB will not publish new economic projections in July.

Inflation is slowing, but growth across the euro zone is picking up, which might limit the ECB’s scope to cut rates.

Two-year German bond yields DE2YT=RR, the most sensitive to changes in expectations for interest rates, are trading around their highest for six months, above 3%, having risen by nearly 70% so far this year.

Despite the rejig to its forecasts Barclays said it did still expect 150 basis points of cuts over the duration of the ECB’s rate reduction cycle.
Source: Reuters (Reporting by Amanda Cooper and Marc Jones; Editing by Alun John and Louise Heavens)

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