Few Concerns, No Changes — ECB Takeaways

The Frankfurt-based bank also said it planned to maintain its bond purchases under its quantitative easing policy at EUR30 billion a month until at least September this year.

"Given the apparent softening of economic growth since the ECB's last meeting, it is no surprise that the Bank has chosen to keep its policy and forward guidance unchanged", Capital Economics economist Jennifer McKeown said. It is up around 1.5 percent against the USA dollar so far this year and was trading at $1.2155 shortly after 1 p.m. London time.

The strength of the Euro was not a pressing matter for policy-setters either, and Draghi dismissed the impact of protectionism as so far not material enough to cause concern.

In particular, they need to agree an end-date for the ECB's 2.55 trillion-euro ($3.10 trillion) bond purchase programme, which has cut borrowing costs and revived growth, even if it has failed to lift inflation back to the target.

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At the European Central Bank governing council meeting, it was decided that the Eurozone base interest rate will remain at 0.00 percent, with the marginal lending rate and deposit rate remaining at 0.25 percent and minus 0.40 percent respectively.

If growth shows signs of slowing that could be a reason to extend the bank's 30 billion euros ($36 billion) in bond purchases.

Business confidence in the 19-country bloc has already taken a knock, most notably in export-focused Germany. The main refinancing rate will stay at 0.00 percent.

The single-currency rose marginally during the event, ending the press conference higher, in line with most analysts pre-meeting slightly bullish Euro estimates, however, later traders sold the Euro as faith evaporated.

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A key worry is that protectionist rhetoric from the USA could push down the value of the dollar, an economic anomaly as the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates several times this year, a natural support for the United States currency.

Even without such shocks, the ECB has long fallen short of its central price stability objective: inflation of just less than 2.0%.

Weaker-than-expected economic data out of the euro zone has raised question marks about that, but policymakers remained comfortable with the policy path priced in by investors, the sources said.

Even if the currency impact were to bite, the European Central Bank has little scope to extend purchases much longer, suggesting it will take an extremely cautious approach to normalising policy, even if it risks erring on the side of caution and moving too late.

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  • Kelly Blake