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Europe's strong economic rebound is expected to continue, with activity returning to its pre-crisis level by the first quarter of next year, according to the latest ECB Economic Bulletin. However, the Covid virus's delta variant could dampen the recovery in services especially, while global pandemic developments point to an increasingly divergent growth path across territories.
Longer-term inflation expectations have increased, but remain well below the ECB's 2% target. Stronger demand and temporary supply chain cost pressures will continue to put upward pressure on prices, but weak wage growth and the euro's past appreciation mean these are expected to remain subdued.
Upside risks to the ECB's baseline scenario include surprisingly strong consumer spending, including the draw-down of forced savings, while better-than-expected pandemic developments could also lead to a faster recovery. Downside risks stem from an intensification of the pandemic leading to underperforming growth if supply shortages prove more persistent.