ECB leaves rates and bond buying unchanged despite inflation uptick

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European Central Bank (ECB) President Christine Lagarde gestures as she addresses a news conference on the outcome of the meeting of the Governing Council, in Frankfurt, Germany, March 12, 2020.

Kai Pfaffenbach | Reuters

The European Central Bank decided Thursday to keep interest rates unchanged as market players look for clues on whether the central bank will soon lift its massive pandemic-era stimulus.

“The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present or lower levels until it has seen the inflation outlook robustly converge to a level sufficiently close to, but below, 2% within its projection horizon, and such convergence has been consistently reflected in underlying inflation dynamics,” the bank said in a statement.

Recent data has shown an overshoot in inflation for the 19-member area that shares the euro, to above the ECB’s target of close to but below 2%. The ECB had previously said it was expecting prices to pick up in 2021, but only temporarily.

Market players therefore want answers on how long the central bank will keep up its vast monetary stimulus. It has committed to purchasing 1.85 trillion euros ($2.2 trillion) of bonds until March 2022 as part of its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program (PEPP). 

This is a breaking news story and it is being updated.

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