ECB's Draghi says weak inflation could result in broader asset buying

The ECB president's comments pushed the euro higher against other major currencies, and the dollar was lower as a result.
By Ananth Baliga   |   April 24, 2014 at 7:51 AM   |   Comments

AMSTERDAM, Netherlands, April 24 (UPI) -- ECB President Mario Draghi said that weaker than expected inflation in the euro area could see the bank broaden its asset buying program.

Inflation slowed to its weakest in more than four years in March to 0.5 percent and Draghi's suggested asset buying would be similar to the quantitative easing programs run by other central bankers. Draghi also emphasized the euro exchange rate was an "increasingly important factor" and could trigger additional easing measures.

“The objective here would not be to defend the current stance, but rather to increase meaningfully the degree of monetary accommodation,” Draghi said during a speech in Amsterdam. “In order to fulfil its mandate, the Governing Council is committed -- unanimously -- to using both unconventional and conventional instruments to deal effectively with the risks of a too-prolonged period of low inflation.”

After an initial dip, the euro climbed back to where it was before Draghi started speaking, Draghi said he didn't see any euro area-wide deflation concerns but that a stronger euro exchange rate could threaten the outlook for prices.

“A rise in the exchange rate, all else being equal, implies a tightening of monetary conditions, a downward impact on inflation and potentially a threat to the ongoing recovery,” he said. “If so, this would call for policy action to maintain the current accommodative stance.”

Draghi did say that inflation was expected to rise back to two percent levels and that delay was because of a lag in the ECB's economic policy stance transmitting to price developments.

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