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Commerzbank CFO says the European Central Bank has hit pause

Commerzbank CFO signals the ECB will not increase rates further

The European Central Bank has likely pressed pause on its rate hiking cycle, the chief financial officer of Commerzbank told CNBC on Friday.

The ECB raised interest rates in July, completing a full year of rate increases. ECB President Christine Lagarde flagged that the central bank could continue or pause rate hikes at its next meeting in September, but definitely will not cut. The ECB’s main rate currently stands at 3.75%.

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Commerzbank CFO Bettina Orlopp told CNBC that the ECB is unlikely to raise rates in September — going against the grain of several analysts who expect a final rate hike next month.

“It is not our assumption we will see (a) rate cut, we do not assume there will be rate increases (too),” Orlopp said when asked about the outlook for 2024. “We will stick to the 3.75% that we currently have.”

Commerzbank is the second largest lender in Germany by market capitalization, and its performance is closely linked to the interest rate environment.

Second-quarter results out Friday showed a 20% jump in the bank’s net profit, compared with the previous year. Revenue also came in higher than analysts had anticipated, reaching 2.6 billion euros ($2.84 billion). The solid results led the German lender to increase its expectations for net interest income in 2023 to “at least 7.8 billion euros,” from a previous guidance of 7 billion euros.

Orlopp added that: “If there were to be another interest rate hike like in the fall, that would be again an upside potential for us.”

A lot of uncertainty remains about which direction the ECB will take in September, with the central bank arguing its decision will depend on data.

“We are very close to the peak in rates and I think the peak is going to come in the next couple of months,” Akshay Singal, EMEA head of short-term interest rate trading at Citi, told CNBC’s Street Signs on Friday.

“(The) September meeting will be the last hike for all of them, if they do (increase rates),” he added, referencing the ECB, Bank of England and Federal Reserve.

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