'Way too early' to declare victory over inflation, says ECB's Nagel

BY Reuters | ECONOMIC | 12/03/23 05:07 AM EST

NICOSIA, Dec 3 (Reuters) - Euro zone inflation will carry on declining in the months ahead but at a slower pace, Bundesbank President Joachim Nagel was quoted as telling Cypriot newspaper Kathimerini on Sunday.

Euro zone inflation eased to 2.4% in November from 2.9% in October, well below expectations for a third straight month and fuelling market speculation that European Central Bank (ECB) rates could come down quicker than the bank now guides.

"We have not yet won the fight against inflation," said Nagel, who visited Cyprus last week. He described inflation as a 'stubborn, greedy beast' and said the next phase of wrestling it down would be more difficult.

"Add in a scenario where an escalation of geopolitical tensions could imply higher inflation and it becomes clear that it would be way too early to declare victory over high inflation rates," said Nagel, an influential voice on the ECB's rate setting Governing Council.

"I can't tell whether interest rates have already reached their peak. On the ECB Governing Council we decide on interest rates on a meeting by meeting basis following our data-dependent approach."

Nagel added that the outlook for inflation was tempered by a weakening of dampening base effects and the phasing out of measures to cap high energy prices in many European countries. He also pointed to an expected continuation of strong wage growth.

"All in all, I expect inflation to carry on declining, but at a slower pace and with possible bumps along the way," Nagel said. (Writing by Michele Kambas Editing by David Goodman)

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