Mario Draghi, the president of the ECB, has detailed on several occasions the policy tools available if the need arose to stimulate lending or inject liquidity into the euro zone economy. However, in December, Draghi said he didn't see any immediate need for any action.
But this latest data, coupled with very low inflation, has led Barclays to predict the ECB will cut its main refinancing rate by 15 basis points in February or March. Barclays also expects a 10 basis point cut to ECB deposit rates, taking them into negative territory and effectively charging banks to store cash at the central bank.
(Read more: Europe's disinflation isn't a worry: Eurogroup President)
Societe Generale said Wednesday's figures would "probably not" affect the outcome of next week's ECB meeting. It forecast though that the ECB would cut rates by 10-15 basis points during the Spring, as well as increase liquidity via a medium-term refinancing operation.
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