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POLL-Norway central bank rates seen on hold next week, hike draws nearer

* reuters://realtime/verb=Open/url=cpurl://apps.cp./Apps/cb-polls?RIC=NOINTR%3DECI poll data

* Unanimous expectation for unchanged rate of 0.0% on March 18

* Median prediction for hike is in Q1 2022

* Some economists eye hike in Q3 of this year

OSLO, March 11 (Reuters) - Norway’s central bank is expected to leave its key interest rate unchanged next week at a record low 0.0%, but it may warn of a steeper rise ahead than previously forecast, amid signs of economic recovery, a Reuters poll of economists showed on Thursday.

The 24 participants in the poll were unanimous in predicting no change in the policy rate when the outcome is announced on March 18, in line with the central bank’s own view.

Having cut rates three times in 2020 to combat the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic, Norges Bank late last year said an increase would probably take place in early 2022.

The median expectation of economists was also for a hike in the first quarter of next year, the poll showed.

But recent data on growth and housing prices, coupled with expectations for a rapid rise in coronavirus vaccinations in Norway in the second quarter of this year, could lead to a faster tightening of monetary policy, some said.

Nordea Markets, which took the most hawkish view, now expects a first hike in the third quarter of this year, followed by four more in the next 12 months, lifting the policy rate to 1.25% by the third quarter of 2022.

Others were more cautious, including Goldman Sachs, which predicted an increase would only emerge in 2024.

Norges Bank will provide detailed forecasts of rates and other economic variables in a quarterly monetary policy report accompanying the interest rate decision. (Reporting by Terje Solsvik; polling by Nagamani Lingappa in Bengaluru; editing by Larry King)

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