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ECB Keeps Rates Unchanged, Says Ready To Expand QE If Outlook Worsens; Euro Slides

There was no surprise in the ECB's monetary policy statement released moments ago, in which the central bank kept all three of its rates unchanged as expected, however it did confirm that QE is intended to to run "until the end of December 2017, or beyond, if necessary," and in a surprise addition added that "if the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, the Governing Council stands ready to increase the programme in terms of size and/or duration."

The Euro appeared surprised by the bolded text and promptly dropped 20 pips to fresh session lows of 1.088.

Full release below:

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. The Governing Council continues to expect the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases.

 

Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, the Governing Council confirms that the net asset purchases, at the new monthly pace of €60 billion, are intended 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 net purchases will be made alongside reinvestments of the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase programme. If the outlook becomes less favourable, or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation, the Governing Council stands ready to increase the programme in terms of size and/or duration.

 

The President of the ECB will comment on the considerations underlying these decisions at a press conference starting at 14:30 CET today.

As usual, attention now turns to Draghi's presser in 45 minutes.