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The European Central Bank could start raising interest rates in July, its president, Christine Lagarde, warned on Wednesday, at a time when the euro zone faces a spike in inflation.

The ECB will “end” its net asset purchases “at the beginning of the third quarter”, that is in July, and then “some time later” there will be a first rate hike,” Lagarde said, adding that “this could mean a period just a few weeks.”

The ECB is scheduled for its next monetary policy meeting on June 9 in Amsterdam, followed by another on July 21 in Frankfurt, before the summer break.

“After the first rate hike, the normalization process will be gradual,” Lagarde added, suggesting more hikes after the summer.

Within the ECB, the clan of “hawks”, which advocates a tighter monetary policy in the face of high inflation, wants to immediately start the cycle of rate hikes.

“As inflation in the eurozone remains high, we have to act,” the president of the German Bundesbank said on Tuesday.

Inflation in the euro area reached a record 7.5% year-on-year in April, according to Eurostat, well above the ECB’s medium-term target of 2%.

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