Thursday, January 22, 2015

ECB maintains rates, further news at press conference

    The European Central Bank (ECB) said it was maintaining the rate on its benchmark refinancing rate at 0.05 percent, along with the rate on its marginal lending facility and deposit rate, but made no further announcements about extending its stimulus program.
    In a brief statement, the ECB said further policy measures would be communicated by the President of the ECB at a press conference starting at 2.30 p.m. Central European Time.
    The ECB is widely expected to expand its current monetary stimulus to include the purchase of government bonds, with media reports in recent days citing total purchases of up to 1.1 trillion euros in an attempt to kickstart economic growth and avoid deflation from taking hold.
    The ECB is currently purchasing asset-backed securities and covered bonds, in addition to its longer-term refinancing operations, after cutting its refinancing rate to the lower bound in September.
   At his news conference in December, ECB President Mario Draghi said the ECB council would review the impact of its "non-standard policy measures" in early 2015 and alter the "size, pace and composition" of its measures if necessary.
    Press have reported that Draghi and the ECB executive board have proposed spending 50 billion euros a month through December 2016 but this amount could be changed by its governing council.
    Draghi has said it is the intention of the ECB to return its balance sheet to the level seen in early 2012 when it was about 3 trillion euros, up almost 1 trillion from its current level.
    Inflation in the euro zone went negative in December with consumer prices falling by 0.2 percent, far below the ECB's target of inflation that is close to but below 2.0 percent.
   In December ECB staff cut its 2015 inflation forecast to 0.7 percent and the 2016 forecast to 1.3 percent from 1.1 percent and 1.4 percent, respectively.


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