ECB gives up on bigger bond buys en route to stimulus exit

The European Central Bank dropped a long-standing pledge on Thursday to increase its bond buying if needed, taking another small step in weaning the euro zone economy off its protracted stimulus. Keeping its broader policy unchanged, the ECB said it could still extend its 2.55 trillion euro ($3.16 trillion) bond purchase scheme beyond September if needed. But it skipped a reference to bigger purchases, a signal that it remains on track to end a three-year-old stimulus scheme before the end of 2018.


ECB's Draghi Says Patience Needed on Monetary Policy

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said Monday that the euro area economy is expanding robustly, but inflation is yet to show sustained signs of moving higher so patience with regard to monetary policy is still needed. In a statement to the European Parliament, Draghi said that growth is stronger than previously expected, but inflation has yet to show more convincing signs of a sustained upward adjustment. "While the strong momentum of the euro area economy has clearly strengthened our confidence in the inflation outlook, patience and persistence with regard to monetary policy is still needed for inflation to sustainably return to levels of below, but close to, 2%,” Draghi said. He said the relationship between growth and inflation remains largely intact, even if it was temporarily weakened.


Spanish Finance Minister Backed for Leading ECB Job

Finance ministers from the 19-country eurozone on Monday endorsed Spain's Luis de Guindos for the coveted post of European Central Bank vice president, after Ireland withdrew the only other candidate. European Union leaders are expected to anoint de Guindos at a summit on March 22-23, after seeking the opinion of EU lawmakers and the ECB, which oversees the euro currency. Once that is done, de Guindos will replace Vitor Constancio on June 1 and serve a non-renewable eight-year term.


ECB's Praet Urges Stimulus Persistence With Inflation Goal Unmet

European Central Bank chief economist Peter Praet pushed back against the idea that the institution is close to deciding to end its bond-buying program, saying there’s still a way to go before inflation is back on track. Praet said the ECB is “some distance” from meeting the three criteria that would show asset purchases have done their job. His comments come amid differences within the Governing Council over how fast to move toward the end of crisis-era stimulus, with Dutch central banker Klaas Knot saying on Sunday that the program has done all that can realistically be expected and should end as soon as possible after September.


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