The deposit facility rate and the marginal lending facility rate were also left unchanged at -0.4 percent and 0.25 percent, respectively.
Excerpts from the Introductory statement to the press conference by Mario Draghi:
Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, we confirm that our net asset purchases, at the current monthly pace of €30 billion, are intended to run until the end of September 2018, or beyond, if necessary, and in any case until the Governing Council sees a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with its inflation aim. The Eurosystem will continue to reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the asset purchase programme for an extended period of time after the end of its net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary. This will contribute both to favourable liquidity conditions and to an appropriate monetary policy stance.
Incoming information, including our new staff projections, confirms the strong and broad-based growth momentum in the euro area economy, which is projected to expand in the near term at a somewhat faster pace than previously expected. This outlook for growth confirms our confidence that inflation will converge towards our inflation aim of below, but close to, 2% over the medium term. At the same time, measures of underlying inflation remain subdued and have yet to show convincing signs of a sustained upward trend.
This assessment is broadly reflected in the March 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area. These projections foresee annual real GDP increasing by 2.4% in 2018, 1.9% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. Compared with the December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for real GDP growth has been revised up for 2018 and remains unchanged for 2019 and 2020.
The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook are assessed as broadly balanced. On the one hand, the prevailing positive cyclical momentum could lead to stronger growth in the near term. On the other hand, downside risks continue to relate primarily to global factors, including rising protectionism and developments in foreign exchange and other financial markets.
According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation decreased to 1.2% in February 2018, from 1.3% in January. This reflected mainly negative base effects in unprocessed food price inflation. Looking ahead, on the basis of current futures prices for oil, annual rates of headline inflation are likely to hover around 1.5% for the remainder of the year. Measures of underlying inflation remain subdued overall. Looking forward, they are expected to rise gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the continuing economic expansion, the corresponding absorption of economic slack and rising wage growth.
This assessment is also broadly reflected in the March 2018 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.4% in 2018, 1.4% in 2019 and 1.7% in 2020. Compared with the December 2017 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for headline HICP inflation has been revised down slightly for 2019 and remains unchanged for 2018 and 2020.