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ECB keeps money-printing programme unchanged

Will re-examine in December.

VALLETTA – The European Central Bank left the key parameters of its quantitative easing scheme unchanged on Thursday, but said it would re-examine its policy at its meeting in December.

“The asset-purchase plans are proceeding smoothly and continue to have a favourable impact,” ECB president Mario Draghi said at a news conference in Malta.

He said, however, that the fall in commodity prices and concerns about emerging markets meant that inflation pressures remained negative.

This meant that current policy needed to be re-examined at the ECB’s next meeting in December.

The ECB buys 60 billion euros worth of assets, mostly government bonds, per month, hoping to boost inflation, lending and growth.

But inflation turned negative in September, with prices dragged down 0.1% by low oil prices, and long-term inflation expectations indicate that the ECB may undershoot its target of just below 2% for years to come.

Although some rate setters, such as Bank of Spain Governor Luis Maria Linde, have argued that the ECB should tweak the asset purchases now, most believe that quantitative easing needs to be given more time to work as its positive effects are just starting to pass through.

Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann, meanwhile, has argued that the fall in oil prices is a one off, which actually boosts consumer spending power, so the ECB needed to look beyond its impact on inflation. 

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