BRUSSELS/FRANKFURT/PARIS (dpa-AFX) - The European Central Bank said on Thursday that it expects to halve its monthly bond purchases to EUR 15 billion after September and to eventually end them in December.
The bank also tweaked its guidance on interest rates, suggesting that they could remain at their present level at least till the summer of 2019 and beyond, if necessary, 'to ensure that the evolution of inflation remains aligned with the current expectations of a sustained adjustment path.'
'The Governing Council anticipates that, after September 2018, subject to incoming data confirming the Governing Council's medium-term inflation outlook, the monthly pace of the net asset purchases will be reduced to EUR 15 billion until the end of December 2018 and that net purchases will then end,' the bank said in a statement.
The Governing Council, led by ECB President Mario Draghi, left the key interest rates unchanged after the policy session in the Latvian capital of Riga, in line with economists' expectations.
The main refi rate is currently at a record low zero percent and the deposit rate at -0.40 percent. The marginal lending facility rate is 0.25 percent.
Policymakers 'undertook a careful review of the progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, also taking into account the latest Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, measures of price and wage pressures, and uncertainties surrounding the inflation outlook,' the bank said.
'Today's monetary policy decisions maintain the current ample degree of monetary accommodation that will ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation towards levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term,' the bank said.
The bank intends to maintain its policy of reinvesting the principal payments from maturing securities for an extended period of time after the end of the net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favorable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.
Draghi is set to hold his press conference at 8.30 am ET in Riga, when he will unveil the latest ECB Staff projections and give signals on the stimulus exit. Reporters are also expected to intensely quiz him regarding the political uncertainty in his home country, Italy.
Copyright RTT News/dpa-AFX