© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde gestures as she addresses a news conference on the outcome of the meeting of the Governing Council, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach
FRANKFURT (Reuters) -Euro zone inflation will fall from a record high this year and the European Central Bank is ready to take any measures necessary to get it down to its 2% target, ECB President Christine Lagarde said on Friday.
Inflation rose to 5% last month, the highest on record for the 19-country currency bloc and more than twice the target, as soaring energy costs and supply constraints pushed up prices for a range of goods and services.
The ECB has long argued that price growth will abate on its own but Lagarde said the ECB could adjust policy if needed.
“Our commitment to price stability remains unwavering,” she said in a speech. “We will take any measures necessary to ensure that we deliver on our inflation target of 2% over the medium term.”
“We understand that rising prices are a concern for many people, and we take that concern very seriously,” Lagarde added.
The ECB extended stimulus last month, arguing that longer-term price pressures are actually too weak rather than too high and that inflation was at risk of falling below its target by year-end.
A number of policymakers have challenged that narrative, however, arguing that risks are skewed towards higher readings and that the ECB should start unwinding its extraordinary support measures.
“We have the flexibility to respond to a range of circumstances,” Lagarde said, adding that the drivers of inflation are actually a drag on growth.
“Higher energy prices are cutting into household incomes and denting confidence, while supply bottlenecks are leading to shortages in the manufacturing sector,” she said.
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