Czech central bank again increases key interest rate

Feb 2, 2022, 4:11 PM | Updated: Feb 3, 2022, 6:20 am

PRAGUE (AP) — The Czech Republic’s central bank raised its key interest rate again in an effort to tackle soaring inflation, echoing an increase that the Bank of England also took Thursday.

The hike of three-quarters of a point, to 4.5%, was the sixth straight increase since June, and analysts expected it. The bank, which considers high consumer prices a major threat, also had indicated it would raise the rate. It’s now at the highest level since January 2002.

Fed by high energy prices, inflation jumped to 6.6% in November, well above the bank’s target of 2% target. The bank expected it will further grow at the beginning of the year.

The bank’s decision comes after the Statistics Office estimated that the country’s economy grew by 3.3% last year, more than expected, after contracting by 5.8% the previous year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Czech bank’s stance contrasts sharply with that of the European Central Bank, which decided Thursday to leave its key economic stimulus programs in place and has said it likely won’t raise interest rates this year because it sees inflation as temporary. It thinks inflation will decline sharply this year and fall to 1.8% in 2023 and 2024.

Also, the U.S. Federal Reserve has signaled it could begin a series of rate increases as early as March. U.S. annual consumer inflation hit 7% in December, a 40-year high.

In the Czech Republic, the last time the central bank changed its rates was Dec. 22, when it increased the key interest rate by a point, to 3.75%.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

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Czech central bank again increases key interest rate