ECB to remain defiant to raise interest rates

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The European Central Bank (ECB) would be best placed to rebuff fresh cries from German advocates to lift interest rates and end its bond buying program, according to a euro zone economist.

The latest eurozone inflation figures released on Wednesday showed an uptick of its yearly rate by 0.5 percent to 1.1 percent, its highest level in three years. The jump in consumer prices resulted in revived calls from Berlin for the ECB to strongly consider an interest rate hike.

“It is time for a normalization… Now a change in interest rates is doable,” Stefan Bielmeier, chief economist at DZ Bank, told German newspaper Bild daily.

ECB President Mario Draghi has targeted inflation levels of around 2 percent for many years but has undershot this aim for a sustained period. In December, the ECB announced a continuation of the bank’s generous asset buying program in an effort to stimulate price rises in the economy.

The central bank said asset purchases were to be extended until at least December 2017 albeit at a reduced level of 60 billion euros a month rather than the previous rate of 80 billion euros. Interest rates were also left unchanged at zero per cent.

“It is only natural German economists would be calling for a change to interest rates from the ECB but the central bank is likely not to be phased by this… Mario Draghi is used to diffusing these types of situations and the ECB should remain relatively sanguine for now,” Claus Vistesen, chief euro zone economist at Pantheon Macro, told CNBC in a phone interview on Thursday.

Germany’s consumer prices moved in sync with other European nations and rose by 1.7 percent on the year in December which appeared to prompt fears about rising inflation which dates back to the 1920s.

“Inflation in the euro zone should continue to improve with risks on the upside. By the way, don’t think this is restricted to Europe, global inflation is on the rise and at the moment it is probably higher than the consensus expects for 2017,” Vistesen said.