The European Central Bank has announced it will extend its monthly asset purchase programme beyond March 2017 but will reduce it from €80bn to €60bn from April 2017, as expected by analysts.
In today’s meeting of its Governing Council, the ECB said the quantitative easing programme will continue until at least the end of December 2017, or beyond if necessary, until the Council sees “a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation” consistent with its inflation target.
However, the central bank said if the economic outlook becomes “less favourable” it will increase the programme again in terms of size and, or,duration.
The ECB began buying bonds in its QE programme in March 2015 initially at a rate of €60bn a month, subsequently increased to €80bn in March this year.
Meanwhile, the central bank has decided to keep its interest rates unchanged at 0.25 per cent.
It said it expects interest rates to remain at present or lower levels “for an extended period of time”, signalling it will not raise rates “well past” December 2017.
At today’s press conference, ECB president Mario Draghi also announced further changes to some parameters for the asset purchase programme.
The programme has reduced the minimum maturity for eligible bonds from two years to one year and will allow to buy bonds that yield below their deposit rate if necessary.
The implementation details will be worked out by the relevant committees.
The ECB chose to change these parameters because these avoid running into legal challenges, Draghi said.