European Central Bank keeps interest rates unchanged

European Central Bank To Hold Meeting Thursday

ECB's Governing Council meets to set monetary policy for the Eurozone

The ECB added that monthly net asset purchases of €30 billion were meant to run until the end of September, or beyond, if necessary.

The phrase had been included in every communique since December 2016.

While markets had hoped that the drop of its pledge to increase bond purchases was a sign of a more bullish ECB, Draghi's comments quickly undermined this sentiment.

Attention now turns to ECB President Mario Draghi's 1330 GMT news conference, where he will unveil fresh macroeconomic projections and face questions about the euro's rise and market volatility.

The ECB staff outlook for inflation doesn't have it nearing its close to but just below 2% target for at least another three years, and the latest Reuters surveys of private sector economists suggest the same.

The ECB has bought more than €2.3 trillion of government and corporate debt since launching the stimulus program.

The central bank's new forecast GDP growth for this year was upwardly revised to 2.4 percent from 2.3 percent, but it was left unchanged at 1.9 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2020.

The ECB still expects inflation of 1.4 per cent this year, but reduced the outlook for consumer-price growth in 2019 from 1.5 per cent to 1.4 per cent.

German manufacturing orders fell more than expected ( in January, dropping 3.9%, compared with forecasts of a 1.5% decline. Also the central bankers did not changed the plan for quantitative easing.

Draghi cautioned that the "rising protectionism" could harm growth in the eurozone.

They were boosted last month when board member Benoit Coeure judged that "in future, the eurosystem [of the ECB plus the national central banks] can retreat as a buyer" without unravelling easier financing conditions.

Traders were waiting to see if the rate setters would remove that particular bit, as it could indicate the end of QE is moving closer.

European Union officials have outlined planned retaliatory measures on targeted American exports to be rolled out if the U.S. makes good on its threat, while China has said it would make 'an appropriate and necessary response. He is a dove and it's clear he still wears the pants on the Governing Council'.

Markets have been anxiously awaiting the ECB's next move after an equities slump, rumblings of a possible trade war between Europe and the United States, and an Italian election Sunday that swept euroskeptic populist parties to record results.

However, Deppe voiced concerns over threats of a trade war coming from the United States.

Taken to extremes, a border tax duel could threaten growth and undermine inflation.

Meanwhile, Sunday's elections in Italy produced an unclear result that will make forming a government for the eurozone's third-largest economy hard, with the parties that made the biggest gains promising lower taxes and higher social benefits.

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