ECB keeps interest rates unchanged as expected

                            2019-04-11 03:06:30 GMT2019-04-11 11:06:30(Beijing Time) Xinhua English

                            FRANKFURT, April 10 (Xinhua) -- The European Central Bank (ECB) Wednesday announced to keep the key interest rates for the euro area unchanged at least through the end of 2019.

                            Following a two-day meeting of the ECB's Governing Council, the bank's decision came after the institution replaced the phrasing "through the summer of 2019" with "through the end of 2019" in a statement on the time frame within which interest rates are expected to remain at current record low levels.

                            The bank also announced plans to hold a new round of quarterly targeted long-term refinancing operations (TLTRO) starting in September 2019 and ending in March 2020.

                            "While there are signs that some of the idiosyncratic domestic factors dampening growth are fading, global headwinds continue to weigh on euro area growth developments," said ECB President Mario Draghi at a press conference. He stressed again that "an ample degree of monetary accommodation remains necessary."

                            After ending its massive asset purchase program in December, the bank believes that "the risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook remain tilted to the downside."

                            In March, the Eurozone Manufacturing Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) dropped to its lowest level since April 2013, making it the second successive month that the PMI has posted below the 50.0 no-change mark, the financial information services provider Markit said.

                            In light of the weaker growth and inflation outlook, and the persistent uncertainties linked to global trade and politics, some economists now expect the ECB to further extend its guidance on the period of unchanged policy rates and ongoing reinvestments.

                            "We think that ECB forecasts for growth and inflation remain too high despite recent downgrades. Our base case is that ECB policy interest rates will remain on hold through to the end of 2020 and that reinvestments will continue to the end of 2021. However, the risks are to the downside and the probability is rising that the ECB will need to step up stimulus and restart QE (quantitative easing)," ABN AMRO commented.

                            Details on the precise terms of the new TLTROs will be released at one of ECB's forthcoming meetings, according to Draghi.

                            At its April meeting, the ECB decided to keep the eurozone base interest rate at a flat 0.00 percent, with the marginal lending and deposit rates remaining at 0.25 percent and minus 0.40 percent, respectively.

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