FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Euro zone inflation could accelerate more quickly than earlier thought but underlying price growth, a key measure watched by policymakers, will only rise slowly, the European Central Bank's Survey of Professional Forecasters showed on Friday.
The ECB kept its abundant stimulus measures in place on Thursday, arguing that inflation excluding energy and food products has yet to show a convincing upward trend.
This suggests that even if growth accelerates, any removal of stimulus will be gradual, lasting years.
Headline inflation in the 19 member currency bloc could hit 1.6 percent this year, above a previous forecast for 1.4 percent, then rise to 1.7 percent by 2019, above the 1.6 percent projection from three months ago, the survey based on 56 responses showed.
Expectations for inflation in 2021 are meanwhile holding steady at 1.8 percent, just at the ECB's inflation objective.
But underlying inflation expectations remained steady at 1.1 percent for this year and 1.3 percent next year, indicating that the rise in inflation is fuelled by volatile food and fuel prices with little effect on core trends.
Growth is meanwhile expected to accelerate more than earlier thought with 2017 growth now seen at 1.7 percent, above an earlier forecasts for 1.5 percent.
But growth will then slow steadily in the coming years, first to 1.6 percent next year, then 1.5 percent in 2019, the survey indicated.
Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa