BERLIN (AP) — A senior European Central Bank official says that raising interest rates prematurely could “choke off the recovery,” comments that come as inflation in the 19-nation euro area has hit a record rate. The European Union’s statistical office said Jan. 7 that the annual inflation rate rose to 5% in December — the highest level in the eurozone since recordkeeping began in 1997, breaking the record of 4.9% from November. That compounded pressure for the ECB to act on inflation since it has kept interest rates ultra-low to stimulate an economy recovering from the depths of the pandemic. At present, analysts don’t expect the bank to raise rates until 2023.
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