Polish central bank unexpectedly raises main interest rate to 0.5%

Poland's central bank unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday by 40 basis points to 0.5%, acting sooner than analysts had expected to try to curb a spike in inflation.

By Anna Koper and Alan Charlish

WARSAW, Oct 6 (Reuters) - Poland's central bank unexpectedly raised its benchmark interest rate on Wednesday by 40 basis points to 0.5%, acting sooner than analysts had expected to try to curb a spike in inflation.

Amid a strong recovery, consumers in Central Europe are facing some of the highest inflation rates in the European Union, and the National Bank of Poland's move means it joins central banks in the Czech Republic, Hungary and Romania in tightening policy.

"The key question is whether this is an introduction to further regular hikes, or after this decision... there will be a break," said Piotr Bielski, director of the economic analysis department of Santander Bank Polska.

Inflation rose to 5.8% in September, a flash estimate showed on Friday, well above the central bank's target range of 2.5% plus or minus one percentage point.

All of the analysts in a Reuters poll had expected rates to remain on hold on Wednesday.

Most economists had not expected the NBP to start raising rates before the first quarter of 2022.

(Reporting by Alan Charlish, Pawel Florkiewicz, Anna Koper and Anna Wlodarczak-Semczuk; Editing by Catherine Evans)

((alan.charlish@thomsonreuters.com; +48 22 104 25 27 ;))

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