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27 April 2018, 12:37 | Vera Richards
ECB keeps rates, policy and guidance unchanged
European Central Bank policymakers meeting on Thursday were keen not to upset investor expectations for a gradual withdrawal of the ECB's monetary stimulus, despite some concerns about the state of the economy, three sources told Reuters.
The ECB's interest rate on its main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at zero, 0.25 and -0.40 percent respectively.
"Incoming information since our meeting in early March points towards some moderation, while remaining consistent with a solid and broad-based expansion of the euro-area economy", Draghi said.
Speaking at a press conference, the bank's head Mario Draghi said: "We continue to expect them to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of our net asset purchases".
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"The bottom line is. caution in reading these developments, caution tempered by an unchanged confidence in convergence of inflation to our inflation aim", he said.
He noted that the European Central Bank expect GDP growth to remain solid and broad-based, even with the moderation in activity indicators seen so far this year and suggested this may partly be due to a pull back from high levels as well as temporary factors.
Unpaid loans at large euro zone banks totalled 759 billion euros at the end of September, having fallen from 920 billion euros only a year earlier thanks to strong economic growth and ECB pressure on banks to offload them. While the greenback's strength is primarily due to higher U.S. bond yields in the past weeks, further good news via growth hard data would push the USA dollar even higher, at the expense of a weak Euro.
Draghi's cautious comments sparked a sell-off in the euro, which slumped 0.4 percent against the dollar to hit $1.211 in late afternoon trading.
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Reuters reported on Monday that after suffering a political backlash, the ECB is considering shelving planned rules that would have forced banks to set aside more money against their stock of unpaid loans.
Draghi said a range of one-off factors including cold weather, labour strikes and the timing of the Easter holiday period had contributed to weakness seen in a number of read-outs across the euro zone in recent weeks.
Draghi said: 'The interesting thing is that we didn't discuss monetary policy per se.
"What is certainly known is that these events have a profound and rapid effect on confidence, on business confidence, on exporters' confidence, generally speaking, and confidence can in turn affect the growth outlook".
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