April 17, 2019 / 8:18 AM / 4 months ago

UPDATE 1-Czech cenbank's Holub sees one rate hike in 2019 as most likely -Bloomberg

(Adds inflation, crown comments, details)

PRAGUE, April 17 (Reuters) - The Czech central bank may have leeway for one interest rate hike in 2019, and a delay to Britain’s exit from the European Union may have given policymakers a “window of opportunity,” board member Tomas Holub was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

“If we need to increase interest rates, it would make more sense to do so in the first half of the year rather than later when we’re uncomfortably close to Brexit again,” Holub was cited as saying in an interview with Bloomberg.

“I don’t regard zero hikes as a very likely scenario. Rather, I believe that room for at least one increase will emerge.”

The Czechs led Europe with five interest rate hikes last year to bring its main repo rate to 1.75 percent as it fought price pressures from a growing economy.

But it has paused since December and at its March 28 meeting it moderated its view of inflationary risk amid slowing European growth.

Holub said the peak of domestic inflationary pressure had passed and there were signals it was easing.

He also said the crown currency may return to an appreciation trend in the medium term but that there was consensus in the board that gains would be more gradual than recent staff forecasts. (Reporting by Jason Hovet; editing by John Stonestreet and Raissa Kasolowsky)

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