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ECB president sees inflation still subdued

09 June 2017

It has removed the reference, saying that European Central Bank would cut rates further if necessary.

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €60 billion, are meant to run until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim.

The ECB is not expected to make any changes to monetary policy, but traders will be watching President Mario Draghi's statements for his assessment of the euro area economy. He said that he expects growth in the eurozone to reach 2% in 2017.

That came after the European Union statistics agency Eurostat earlier revised up its estimate of first quarter growth to its fastest rate in two years, saying the economy of the 19-country euro zone expanded by 0.6 per cent quarter-on-quarter and by 1.9 per cent year-on-year.

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Ending the bond purchases and raising interest rates could have wide-ranging effects, such as a stronger euro and higher interest costs for heavily indebted governments.

Draghi said inflation indicators "have yet to show convincing signs of a pickup". The ECB said it now saw inflation this year at just 1.5 percent, down from a previous forecast of 1.7 percent.

Draghi said the central bank would remain poised to extend its accommodative monetary policy if necessary.

There will be fewer purchases in 2018, so instead of 60 billion, the European Central Bank will buy 30 or 40 billion euros worth of bonds monthly.

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The statement that inflation remains weak supports the central bank's reluctance to announce an end to its bond-buying stimulus program or to raise interest rates from record lows. Thanks to the bond purchases, "five million jobs have been created in the eurozone in the last three and a half years", he said. "More jobs than anywhere else in the world, I think, certainly more than in the United States".

But the bank's announcement Thursday reiterated that its stimulus in the form of monthly bond purchases could be stepped up if the economic outlook worsens. While few expect that to happen, the words underline that the bank is not yet willing to call time on the stimulus program.

"They have omitted the guidance that interest rates might be cut, but they have kept all their other easing measures in place and the comment that QE could be extended if needed", said Sonja Marten, senior FX strategist at DZ Bank.

Meeting was one for the history books.

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Pan Pylas reported from London.

ECB president sees inflation still subdued