U.S. News

European Rates Stay at 3.75%; Trichet Signals Hike in June

CNBC.com and wire services

The European Central Bank kept its core interest rate on hold at 3.75% Thursday as widely expected by economists, but the Bank’s President Jean-Claude Trichet hinted at a rate rise in June.

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee raised core interest rates by a quarter point to 5.5% in the U.K.

Following the ECB announcement Trichet signaled a rise in June to 4% when speaking at a news conference, saying the central bank needs to exercise “strong vigilance” to combat rising prices.

ECB Keeps Rates Unchanged

The phrase used by Trichet is a “precursor to a move in early June," Donal O'Mahony, global bond strategist at Davy Stockbrokers, told "Squawk Box Europe."

Even though economists are expecting the summer rate rise, it is unclear if that is to mark a peak for European interest rates in the near-term, or whether there is further upside potential.

"The markets are begrudgingly pricing in one more move (to the upside) in the second half, I think they may be disappointed, I think there may be two moves coming," O'Mahony said.

Despite this risk to export profitability the ECB is expected to reach at least 4.25% by the end of the year, according to a Dow Jones survey of 28 analysts. However, longer term interest rate predictions are subject to revision as the state of the European economy is likely to change in the meantime.

"The ECB has rates where they want them, so they can respond as events unfold," said Austin Hughes, chief economist at IIB Bank, on "Power Lunch Europe," following the decision.

Bank of England Spooked by Inflation

The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee raised interest rates by a quarter point to 5.5% Thursday, a move widely expected by economists.

The BOE move is the fourth 25-basis-point hike since August. U.K. interest rates are now at their highest level in six years.

"There is quite a high chance of one more quarter point hike, but I do think that will be the peak," Richard Cunningham, managing director at City Index Advisory, said on "Power Lunch Europe," following the announcement.

"Lower gas and electricity prices and weaker import price inflation mean that CPI inflation is likely to fall back to around the 2% target in the course of this year," the Bank of England said in a statement.

The BOE is attempting to curb the recent run-up in prices in the U.K. as inflation for March surged to over 3%, forcing Bank of England Governor Mervyn King to write an open letter of explanation to the government for the first time.