Europeans Go Online to Stop ECB Rate Hike

An online petition urging the European Central Bank not to raise interest rates in July has collected almost 1,500 signatures.

The petition at, conceived by French economist Marc Touati, argues that given the current economic situation, rate hikes will only aggravate inflation in the euro zone and harm fragile economic growth.

"If the ECB's (refinancing) rate increases the euro will rise again, the dollar will fall, therefore oil prices will rise," the petition said.

"In other words, in wanting to fight against inflation by increasing interest rates the ECB would actually increase the latter," it said.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet shocked markets this month when he said the central bank might raise rates from 4.0 percent in July to stop current record high inflation -- fuelled by high oil prices -- from feeding into wage and price demands.

Launched on Friday, the petition had collected 1,473 virtual signatures by 6 pm London time on Monday.

Touati told Reuters most signatories were French, but there was also support from Italy, Spain and English-speaking countries.

"It's really taking off," he said.