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Euro soars higher as ECB's Draghi comments on currency's strength

  • The euro saw a volatile afternoon of trade on Thursday as currency traders reacted to comments from Mario Draghi.
  • Many see the euro appreciation as being a key reason why the ECB has held off from announcing a start to the wind down of its stimulus package.

The euro saw a volatile afternoon of trade on Thursday as currency traders reacted to comments from Mario Draghi, the president of the European Central Bank (ECB).

The single currency was trading at 1.1970 against the U.S. dollar before the economist started his speech at a press conference at 1:30 p.m. London time, but jumped higher to over 1.204 shortly afterwards.

This came despite Draghi specifically mentioning the strength of the currency, saying the central bank is monitoring how it is affecting inflation and growth in the euro zone. Many see the euro appreciation as being a key reason why the ECB has held off from announcing a start to the wind down of its stimulus package.

"The recent volatility in the exchange rate represents a source of uncertainty which requires monitoring with regard to its possible implications for the medium-term outlook for price stability," Draghi said.

These dovish words did little to pressure the euro, and instead some traders pointed towards his comments on inflation. Draghi said that core inflation - which excludes energy and food - is "doing slightly better" and reiterated that the exchange rate wasn't a key metric that the ECB used to set policy.

"The exchange rate is not a policy target. But it's also - it's very - it's important and very important for growth and inflation," he noted.

"The medium-term outlook for inflation was revised downward in the staff's projections, mainly due to the appreciation of the exchange rate, which means that we will have to take into account this element in our information set in our future policy decisions," he added.

He also said that the ECB's Governing Council will likely discuss the future of its asset purchase program in October - another hawkish move that pushed the euro higher. He later mentioned that the bulk of the decisions it will make on policy calibration will probably be in October.

The higher the euro, the more expensive products and services get for non-euro customers, which might affect exports from the currency union. At the same time it dampens inflation as imported goods get cheaper.

"If the ECB really wants to unwind the euro's sharp appreciation this year, the central bank must tell the market that the expectation for a sea-change is completely wrong," said Dhaval Joshi, senior vice-president at BCA Research, suggesting that Draghi might be teeing up a move in October with his choice of words at the press conference.

"In other words, the ECB must indicate that it has no intention to dial back its emergency monetary accommodation."

Since the start of the year, the euro has risen 13 percent, buoyed in part by a weakening dollar.