ONGC Hopes To Recover Over USD 400 Mn Dividend As Sanctions Eased On Venezuela

ONGC Hopes To Recover Over USD 400 Mn Dividend As Sanctions Eased On Venezuela: With inflation now down to 4.3 per cent, the ECB held off on more hikes during its meeting in Athens.
ONGC Videsh Limited
ONGC Videsh Limited

The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged Thursday for the first time in over a year as the Israel-Hamas war spreads even more gloom over already downbeat prospects for Europe's economy.

It is the bank's first meeting with no change after a torrid pace of 10 straight increases dating to July 2022 that pushed its key rate to a record-high 4 per cent.

The ECB joins the US Federal Reserve, Bank of England and others in holding borrowing costs steady — albeit at the highest levels in years — as inflation has eased.

The ECB said its previous interest rate increases are being “transmitted forcefully” to the economy in the form of more expensive credit, which is “increasingly dampening demand and thereby helps push down inflation.”

The bank said it would keep rates high enough to restrict economic activity and contain inflation “for as long as necessary.”

Inflation peaked at a painful 10.6 per cent in October for the 20 countries that use the euro currency as Russia's war in Ukraine took a toll.

Those high prices have been poison for consumer spending, draining household finances with added costs for necessities such as food, heat and electricity.

But with inflation now down to 4.3 per cent, the ECB held off on more hikes during its meeting in Athens.

It is one of the bank's regular meetings away from its Frankfurt headquarters, meant to underline its status as a European Union institution.

Now, worries are sharpening about weakening economic growth and even the risk of a recession. Rate hikes are a central bank's chief weapon against inflation, but they can weigh on economic growth by raising the cost of credit for consumer purchases, particularly homes, and for companies to buy new equipment and facilities.

Surveys of purchasing managers by S and P Global indicate that economic activity fell in October.

Analysts at ABN Amro bank foresee a 0.1 per cent drop in economic output in the eurozone for the July-September quarter and minus 0.2 per cent for the last three months of the year.

The EU will publish third-quarter figures on Tuesday.

Inflation's impact on consumers was a big reason why Europe has seen almost no growth this year, recording zero in the first quarter and 0.2 per cent in the second.

Its biggest economy, Germany, is forecast by the International Monetary Fund to shrink by 0.5 per cent this year, making it the world's worst performing major economy. The IMF says even Russia is expected to grow this year.

And there's little prospect of improvement for Europe this year. The war in the Middle East has threatened to raise oil prices, though there hasn't been a major spike or an interruption in supplies so far.

But the conflict adds uncertainty because Europe is heavily dependent on imported energy, which could be affected if the Israel-Hamas war widens to include Iran or its proxy fighters in Arab countries.

“The ECB won't be in any rush to take further action,” said Carsten Brzeski, global head of macro at ING bank.

“Instead, it will use a welcome pause to wait for more data points on the delayed impact of the rate hikes so far and developments in the oil price.”

The emphasis has shifted to how long rates will stay at record highs. ECB President Christine Lagarde has repeated the bank's message that rates have now “reached levels that, maintained for a sufficiently long duration, will make a substantial contribution to the timely return of inflation” to its goal of 2per cent considered best for the economy.

That was taken as a signal the ECB was finished raising rates, though some analysts aren't ruling out a last rate hike in December if the expected decline in inflation doesn't materialise.

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