Central Banks

ECB's Mario Draghi: Disagreement is 'normal'

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European Central Bank President Mario Draghi hit back Thursday at reports of dissent among its governing body, and hinted at the possibility of further aggressive stimulus measures.

"It is fairly normal to disagree about things," Draghi said at his regular press conference on Thursday after the bank decided to keep interest rates at their record lows.

The president had been the subject of speculation that members of the ECB Governing Council were planning to challenge him over his management and communication style. However, Draghi went to great lengths to stress that the regular pre-council meeting dinner was cordial, describing it as "one of the best we have had".

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As well as quashing rumors of dissent, Draghi added that council members were unified in their desire to instigating more stimulus programs if needed.

"Should it become necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate," Draghi said.

"The Governing Council has tasked ECB staff and the relevant euro system committees with ensuring the timely preparation of further measures to be implemented, if needed."

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European stocks rose and the euro fell on the hint that the ECB could instigate bolder policy action in the coming months. Analysts continue to debate whether the ECB will instigate a U.S.-style sovereign bond-buying program, but conflict within the Governing Council could limit the likelihood of this.

The Bank has already announced unconventional stimulus measures, including asset-backed security (ABS) purchases, in an attempt to boost growth and inflation in the euro area.

However, inflation remains well-below the ECB's targeted level of close to 2.0 percent, coming in at 0.4 percent in October. The region's economy failed to grow in the second quarter of this year, and both Italy's and Germany's economies shrunk.

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Draghi's stressing of ECB unity came after Reuters reported that council members were planning to challenge him over what they saw as his secretive management style and erratic communication. The agency said central bankers hoped to persuade Draghi to act more collegially.

Ahead of Thursday's conference, the ECB announced it was holding key interest rates at record lows. The euro zone's benchmark lending rate will remain at 0.05 percent, while its deposit rate will stay at negative 0.20 percent—effectively charging lenders for holding deposits with the central bank.

Draghi said heightened unemployment would dampen the euro area's economic recovery and that the unstable geopolitical situation would also weigh—particularly on investment.

Draghi added that data showed growth momentum in the euro zone had weakened since the summer, leading to a downward revision of GDP estimates until 2016.

Also on Thursday, the Bank of England opted to leave its benchmark interest rate unchanged at 0.5 percent and hold the size of its bond portfolio at £375 billion ($597 billion).

Attention will now shift to the Bank of England's inflation report, which will be published next Wednesday. Investors hope this will shed light on when the Bank might start hiking rates.

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