(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank will have to wait until next year for key data that will help determine whether inflation is firmly headed back to the 2% target, Chief Economist Philip Lane said.

With many wage negotiations in the euro-zone only taking place at the beginning of 2024, an important element for the the ECB’s analysis will remain missing, Lane said in an interview with Yahoo Finance on Friday. 

“This autumn, we will learn a lot, but we’re not going to learn everything,” Lane said. “It is going to be a topic that’s going to be stretching well into the new year in terms of understanding the data we need to see in order to move further in the adjustment back toward the target for inflation, which in turn at some point will unlock a kind of normalization of monetary policy.”

Lane’s comments on wages help explain why policymakers aren’t offering any guidance on when they might be ready to lower interest rates, something investors are increasingly focusing on. Some economists say such a move could happen as early as June, though more expect the ECB to stay on hold for longer. 

Officials last week raised the deposit rate to 4%, a level that they said will make a substantial contribution to restoring price stability if maintained for a sufficiently long period. 

Lane also said that the ECB remains open to another increase in borrowing costs, while cautioning not to over-interpret such a message. 

If incoming data signals that more is needed, “of course we will do more,” he said. “That’s just reflective of the uncertainty we’re living in in these conditions.”

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