The euro zone's central bank was widely expected to announce it will continue with its massive trillion-euro bond-buying program at its meeting on Thursday, however some analysts were surprised at the details of the announcement.
"The ECB just surprised by announcing that they will extend their QE (quantitative easing) program by at least nine months, though at a smaller pace," Carsten Brzeski, a chief economist at ING, said in a note.
"Even without calling this tapering, the ECB just announced tapering. It is the combination of extending and tapering that we thought would not yet happen as it could risk an unwarranted increase in bond yields."
The ECB did add a caveat stating that if "the outlook becomes less favorable or if financial conditions become inconsistent with further progress towards a sustained adjustment of the path of inflation" then it would increase the program again in terms of size and/or duration.
President Mario Draghi spoke at a press conference after the announcement, trying to dampen talk that the central bank was "tapering" its asset purchases. He dismissed the idea that the ECB's adjustment to the pace of its asset purchase program could be seen as easing off.
"There is no question about tapering," Draghi told the news conference. "Tapering was not discussed today," he concluded, before adding that the concept of "tapering" has several meanings and depends on who was discussing the term.
Draghi also outlined the bank's inflation forecasts over the next three years with ECB members keeping their estimate for consumer prices to grow this year by 0.2 percent. Members now expect inflation at 1.3 percent next year, marginally higher than a previous forecast for 1.2 percent back in September. 2018 inflation was revised slightly lower.