Europe Economy

Draghi says ECB's policy stance is still appropriate, too soon to reduce stimulus

ECB’s Draghi: Monetary policy is still appropriate
ECB’s Draghi: Monetary policy is still appropriate

European Central Bank President Mario Draghi insisted the bank's monetary policy stance remained appropriate on Thursday and stressed "sufficient confidence" would be necessary for the central bank to change tact.

"We are confident that our policy is working and that the outlook for the economy is gradually improving," Draghi said at a conference in Frankfurt on Thursday.

"But even so, we have not yet seen sufficient evidence to materially alter our assessment of the inflation outlook – which remains conditional on a very substantial degree of monetary accommodation. Hence a reassessment of the current monetary policy stance is not warranted at this stage," he added.

The ECB chief reaffirmed his stance the central bank would not need to deviate from its generous asset-buying program until at least the end of the year. The ECB's rate of asset purchases is set to continue until at least the end of December, albeit at a reduced monthly rate of 60 billion euros ($63.8 billion) from April.

Inflation outlook remains unchanged

The inflation outlook remains unchanged: ECB’s Draghi
The inflation outlook remains unchanged: ECB’s Draghi

At the central bank's March meeting, Draghi suggested he would continue to look through "transient" changes in headline inflation figures and reiterated this view on Thursday.

Improving economic data in Europe appeared to increase pressure on Draghi to reconsider the ECB's bond-buying program yet the central bank chief's reassessment of monetary policy found scant evidence of higher underlying inflation pressures. The euro moved down to $1.0640 shortly after Draghi finished speaking at the conference.

Elsewhere, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann had suggested he would welcome a move in the opposite direction from the ECB.

Weidmann told German weekly newspaper Die Zelt in an interview published Wednesday that the time for the ECB to scale back monetary stimulus was fast-approaching given the apparent strength of the bloc's economy.

'Now is not the time to hit the exit button'

ECB was late to the game on QE: S&P Global
ECB was late to the game on QE: S&P Global

Meanwhile, S&P chief economist, Paul Sheard told CNBC on Thursday he was probably "more in the Draghi camp" when asked whether he would sympathize with Weidmann's criticism.

"I think after a sustained period of low inflation, weak growth with still unemployment relatively high in the euro zone … Now is not the time to be hitting the exit button," Sheard said.

"Give a little bit more time to run, make sure that this recovery is very, very sound and very, very firm and then I think you can start to move," he added.