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ECB all but certain to keep buying bonds beyond March: Central bank sources

Mario Draghi
Ralph Orlowski | Reuters
Mario Draghi

The European Central Bank (ECB) is nearly certain to continue buying bonds beyond its March target and to relax its constraints on the purchases to ensure it finds enough paper to buy, central bank sources have told Reuters.

The moves will come in an attempt to bolster what is being heralded as the start of an economic recovery in the euro zone.

ECB policymakers are due to decide in December on the future shape and duration of their 80 billion euros ($87.36 billion) monthly quantitative easing (QE) scheme, based on new growth and inflation forecasts.


They did not discuss specific options at last week's meeting and no policy proposal has been formulated. But sources familiar with the matter said it was all but sure that money printing would continue in some form beyond March, currently the ECB's earliest end-date.

This would be consistent with ECB President Mario Draghi's guidance last week that the Bank would keep a "very substantial degree of monetary accommodation" and his dismissal of an abrupt end to the bond scheme.


The ECB declined to comment for this article.

Whether the current monthly volume of purchases will be maintained or reduced after March has not been decided and will depend on incoming economic data, the sources said.

Recent data has shown a slight uptick in inflation and other gauges of economic activity, suggesting a nascent recovery.

Business activity in the euro zone expanded this month at the fastest pace this year while the Ifo indicator of German business confidence improved unexpectedly in October.

But with price growth still seen missing the ECB's target of almost 2 percent for at least two years, not even the most hawkish members of the ECB's Governing Council are prepared to argue bond purchases should stop in March, the sources said.