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December 13, 2018 @ 11:32 +03:00
The European Central Bank is all but certain to formally end its lavish bond purchase scheme on Thursday but will take an increasingly dim view on growth, raising the odds that its next step in removing stimulus will be delayed. The long-flagged end of bond buys must be irreversible for the sake of credibility. But with growth slowing, budgetary tensions in France and Italy, a political deadlock over Brexit and a global trade war still looming large, ECB chief Mario Draghi will be keen to emphasize other forms of support.
This leaves Draghi with yet another delicate balancing act: appearing confident enough to justify the end of the 2.6 trillion euro ($2.95 trillion), four-year-long bond buying program, but sounding sufficiently concerned to keep investor expectations about further policy tightening relatively cool.
Overall inflation, the ECB’s primary objective, may be near the target now – and slightly above it in Germany, where prices grew by 2.2. percent in November, data showed on Thursday. But falling oil prices suggest a dip in the months ahead and a solid rise in wages is not feeding through to prices, leaving the bank with an unexplained disconnect. Highlighting this complication, the ECB is likely to cut growth and underlying inflation projections and may take a dimmer view on risks, all while Draghi argues that growth is merely falling back to normal after a recent run. The ECB announces its rate decision at 1245 GMT and Draghi will hold a news conference at 1330 GMT. Economists polled by Reuters unanimously expect unchanged rates.