European Central Bank policymakers on Thursday lowered their annual growth forecast, as they confirmed a widely expected hold of interest rates.

Staff projections now see economic growth of 0.6% in 2024, from a prior forecast of 0.8%. Their inflation forecast for the year was brought to 2.3% from 2.7%.

As the ECB has held rates at a record high since its September meeting, market participants have been eagerly awaiting the March projections for an indication on when it may begin cuts.

Its key rate is currently 4%, up from -0.5% in June 2022, following a run of 10 hikes.

Expectations have shifted to the June meeting, even as ECB staff stress they want to assess wage data from the spring before making a decision.

Euro zone inflation eased to 2.6% in February from from 2.8% in January, showing continued progress towards the ECB’s 2% target. However, the core figure which strips out energy, food, alcohol and tobacco proved stickier, at 3.1%.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.



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