ECB Leaves Rates Unchanged

The ECB left its benchmark refinancing rate steady at a record low of 0.05% on September 3rd as widely expected. The central bank also revised down growth and inflation forecasts.

Extracts from the Introductory statement to the press conference:

The Governing Council decided to increase the issue share limit of sovereign bond ownership from the initial limit of 25% to 33%, subject to a case-by-case verification that this would not create a situation whereby the Eurosystem would have blocking minority power, in which case the issue share limit would remain at 25%.

The information available indicates a continued though somewhat weaker economic recovery and a slower increase in inflation rates compared with earlier expectations. However, owing to sharp fluctuations in financial and commodity markets, the Governing Council judged it premature to conclude on whether these developments could have a lasting impact on the outlook for prices and on the achievement of a sustainable path of inflation towards our medium-term aim, or whether they should be considered to be mainly transitory.

In the meantime, we will fully implement our monthly asset purchases of €60 billion. These purchases have a favourable impact on the cost and availability of credit for firms and households. They are intended to run until the end of September 2016, or beyond, if necessary, and, in any case, until we see a sustained adjustment in the path of inflation that is consistent with our aim of achieving inflation rates below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.

September 2015 ECB staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual real GDP increasing by 1.4% in 2015, 1.7% in 2016 and 1.8% in 2017. Compared with the June 2015 Eurosystem staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for real GDP growth has been revised down, primarily due to lower external demand owing to weaker growth in emerging markets.

According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation was 0.2% in August 2015, unchanged from June and July. Compared with the previous month, this reflects a further decline in energy price inflation, compensated for by higher price increases for food and industrial goods. On the basis of the information available and current oil futures prices, annual HICP inflation rates will remain very low in the near term. Annual HICP inflation is expected to rise towards the end of the year, also on account of base effects associated with the fall in oil prices in late 2014. 

The risks to the euro area growth outlook remain on the downside, reflecting in particular the heightened uncertainties related to the external environment. Notably, current developments in emerging market economies have the potential to further affect global growth adversely via trade and confidence effects.

Turning to the monetary analysis, recent data confirm robust growth in broad money (M3). The annual growth rate of M3 was 5.3% in July 2015, compared with 4.9% in June. Annual growth in M3 continues to be increasingly supported by its most liquid components, with the narrow monetary aggregate M1 growing at an annual rate of 12.1% in July, compared with 11.7% in June.

Loan dynamics continued to improve. The annual rate of change of loans to non-financial corporations (adjusted for loan sales and securitisation) increased to 0.9% in July, up from 0.2% in June, continuing its gradual recovery since the beginning of 2014. Despite these improvements, the dynamics of loans to non-financial corporations remain subdued. They continue to reflect the lagged relationship with the business cycle, credit risk, credit supply factors, and the ongoing adjustment of financial and non-financial sector balance sheets.

ECB | Joana Taborda |
9/3/2015 3:22:01 PM