Europe News

Euro slides as Draghi delivers a ‘dovish’ end to the ECB’s easy money

Key Points
  • The bank said Thursday interest rates will likely stay at current levels through the summer of 2019.
  • The euro fell in value as investors focused on the interest rate path.
  • Robust US retail sales data for May also caused an uptick in dollar value.
The stars of the European Union sit on banners flying outside the European Central Bank headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany, on July 20, 2017.
Krisztian Bocsi | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The euro fell sharply after the European Central Bank (ECB) outlined its exit from quantitative easing (QE), but also claimed interest rates won't likely budge for more than a year.

Sitting at around 1.1818 versus the dollar before the announcement, the euro fell to 1.1681 during Draghi's subsequent press conference, shipping around 0.9 percent in value for the session.

The move was accelerated after data showed that U.S. retail sales surged in May, causing more buying of the dollar against a number of currencies.

The ECB has said that from September the pace of bond buying will fall from 30 billion euros ($34 billion) to 15 billion euros. The figure then falls to zero in December 2018.

Euro investors appeared to focus more on the statement from the bank's governing council that key ECB rates are to remain at their present levels "at least through the summer of 2019".

Interest rate on the main refinancing operations, marginal lending facility, and the deposit facility were unchanged today at 0.00 percent, 0.25 percent and -0.40 percent respectively.

In its statement, the central bank added that the rates would stay subdued as long as necessary to ensure euro zone inflation remains on path to hit the central bank's target of just below 2 percent.

ECB rate guidance slightly dovish, analyst says
ECB rate guidance slightly dovish, analyst says

Speaking to CNBC's Decision Time, the Head of European Fixed Income at BlackRock, Michael Krautzberger, said there were a number of "cross-currents" affecting currencies and the initial fall in euro value may not last long.

"It tells us that we are looking more at interest rate behavior than QE itself. But we obviously have huge daily volatility coming from Italy as well so I wouldn't over-read the first reaction," he said.

Krautzberger added that Draghi had again shown "quite a feeling for markets" by delivering the end of QE with minimal reaction.

In the bond markets, yields on 10-year German bonds fell to 0.443 percent. Yields move inversely to prices. And in equity markets, the Stoxx600 turned positive on the news and had moved around 0.2 percent higher by 2.20 p.m. CET.

Economist: ECB QE unwinding announcement well timed
Economist: ECB QE unwinding announcement well timed

One former member of the ECB Executive Board said Thursday that the removal of QE will be a gradual process as the bank will continue to reinvest principal payments from maturing securities already purchased.

Gertrude Tumpel-Gugerell told CNBC's Decision Time that it was ideal timing to start the removal of QE.

"We have seen a weakening of sentiment indicators in recent months, but not all over the euro zone. It was mainly in German where sensitivity towards trade issues is stronger than elsewhere," she said.

Tumpel-Gugerell added that the ECB suggestion that rates would remain where they are until the end of next summer was the first time in many years that the ECB had been explicit on tying rate moves to dates.