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ECB should act on strong euro: Italy finance minister

Wednesday, 6 Nov 2013 | 1:31 AM ET
Italian banks won't disappoint: Minister
Tuesday, 5 Nov 2013 | 5:40 AM ET
Fabrizio Saccomanni, Italy's minister of economy and finance, says measures are needed to inject liquidity and reduce the euro's strength, and argues that no Italian bank will fail the ECB's stress tests.

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The European Central Bank (ECB) should show that it is ready to tackle the strong euro as well as stimulating growth when it meets later this week to decide its next monetary policy move, Italy's economy and finance minister Fabrizio Saccomanni told CNBC on Tuesday.

Analysts expect the ECB to announce a further rate cut or some kind of further liquidity provision when it meets on Thursday in order to stimulate euro zone growth and consumer confidence.

Although an injection of liquidity would be effective, Saccomanni told CNBC in an interview in London on Tuesday, he wanted to see the central bank tackle the strength of the euro which was damaging Italy's hopes of an export-led recovery.

(Read more: More liquidity coming from ECB to avoid 'cliff': Nowotny)

"What could be more effective [than an injection of liquidity] are some measures that would signal that the stance of monetary policy in Europe is also taking into account the fact that the euro is becoming very strong," he told CNBC.

Saccomanni's comments come against a backdrop of deflationary concerns and a single currency that has risen 2.8 percent against the dollar since the U.S. Federal Reserve decided to delay the tapering of its asset purchase program on September 18.

During a speech in London on Monday, Saccomanni said that Europe faced no risk of deflation, despite recent data pointing to the contrary.

(Read more: Pressure on ECB to cut rates after inflation shock)

Speaking to CNBC, however, he said he expected the ECB and its president Mario Draghi to maintain its pledge to do "whatever it takes to keep economic activity and the rate of inflation from falling into the dangerous area of deflation."

Saccomanni added that acting to counteract the deflationary trend and weaken the euro would help Italy's recovery. "Italy is very keen on promoting its exports and an exchange rate that nears 1.40 [euros against the dollar] is certainly considered not to be a facilitator for our industry," he said.

He is not alone in believing that export-led growth is the way out of recession for the euro zone's third-largest economy.

(Read more: Italy's 2014 budget could spark further trouble)

In its latest economic report on Europe, the European Commission said on Tuesday that export-led recovery would pave the way to economic growth in Italy.

"Improved business confidence since the early summer, mainly driven by a positive assessment of export orders, foretells a gradual mild recovery in output as from the fourth quarter of 2013," the report stated, adding that Italy was in line to achieve its budget deficit target of 2.7 percent in 2014 and would not exceed the commission's limit of 3 percent this year, as had been feared.

It warned, however, that although Italy was emerging from recession, "persistently" tight credit conditions continued to subdue consumer demand. It also forecast that the country's gross domestic product would contract by 1.8 percent this year before returning to growth of 0.7 percent in 2014 and 1.2 percent in 2015

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