November 7, 2019 / 12:42 PM / a month ago

Czech central bank holds rates steady as expected after longer-than-usual debate

PRAGUE, Nov 7 (Reuters) - The Czech National Bank (CNB) held interest rates unchanged on Thursday, as expected, after a longer-than-usual debate postponed the announcement of the decision, as the bank seeks to balance price pressures coming from the domestic economy with weakness abroad.

Markets are expected to turn focus to the central bank’s new economic forecasts for hints on future policy after the board voted to keep the main two-week repo rate at 2.00%.

The central bank is among a small minority in Europe which has still been discussing an interest rate increase, pushing against the grain while the European Central Bank loosens policy to prop up the euro zone economy.

All 14 analysts in a Reuters poll saw no change coming at Thursday’s meeting.

Of those, eight see the key rate staying unchanged throughout 2020, while five analysts forecast a cut by the third quarter of next year. One did not give an outlook.

Four of the seven-member central bank board, including Governor Jiri Rusnok, spoke in favor of stable rates last week, while one central banker saw a 50-50 chance that he might vote for a hike.

Rusnok will comment on the rate decision at a press conference at 2:45 p.m. local time (1345 GMT), 30 minutes later than previously scheduled as the central bank earlier delayed publishing its policy decision.

Rusnok will also present a quarterly update to the staff macroeconomic outlook.

The last outlook from August saw growth at 2.6% in 2019 before a pickup to 2.9% next year.

Reporting by Jan Lopatka and Robert Muller, editing by Jason Hovet

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