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ECB: first (hawkish) move since 2011

  As we expected, the ECB moved to a more neutral stance today by describing the risks to economic activity as “broadly balanced” and by removing its bias to even “lower” policy rates. The symbolic significance of the move should not be underestimated. It is the first time that the balance of risks to growth […]

Core inflation clouds ECB’s next move

Euro area ‘flash’ HICP inflation came in at 1.4% y-o-y in May (down from 1.9% in April) while core inflation eased to 0.94% (down from 1.2%), both slightly below consensus expectations, as energy-related base effects and Easter distortions faded. We forecast euro area inflation to remain relatively stable in the next few months before core […]

Euro area business confidence remains strong

The euro area May PMI indices remained consistent with Mario Draghi’s assessment of the ongoing recovery as “solid and broad”. The composite flash PMI remained stable at 56.8 in May, against expectations of a small decline. This apparent stability masked further improvement in the largest member states as business confidence outperformed in the French services […]

The ECB debates sequencing of policy moves

Recent comments from ECB executive board member Benoît Coeuré have confirmed that the ECB is likely to make further changes to its communication at its 8 June meeting, moving towards a neutral stance despite a likely downward revision to the 2017 inflation staff forecast. Importantly, Coeuré sounded open to further changes to the ECB’s forward […]

ECB: the courage not to act

The European Central Bank left policy and forward guidance unchanged at today’s meeting notwithstanding the “increasingly solid” recovery and “diminished” downside risks to the outlook. Our impression is that there is a strong consensus to “finish the job” by keeping the monetary stance very accommodative until the ECB sees signs of life in core consumer […]

Drop in euro area inflation amplified by statistical distortions

Euro area headline inflation declined for the first time in almost a year, by a larger margin than expected by the consensus. Headline HICP eased to 1.5% in March, from 2.0% in February, while core HICP inflation (excluding energy, food, alcohol and tobacco) dropped to a two-year low of 0.67% y-o-y, from 0.86% in February. The […]

Euro bank credit still strong in spite of February weakness

The euro area M3 and credit report for February was slightly disappointing overall. Broad money growth (M3) eased from 4.8% to 4.7% y-o-y.  Bank loans to non-financial corporations fell back to 2.0% y-o-y in February, from 2.3% in January, as a result of weaker lending flows across the region. Notwithstanding this modest setback, the euro […]

Take-up of TLTRO loans is good news for euro bank credit

The fourth and final of the ECB’s Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operations (TLTRO) today attracted EUR233bn in demand from 474 euro area banks, well above consensus (EUR110bn). Expectations of an ECB deposit rate hike may have boosted demand for this operation, as it provided a last opportunity for banks to secure four-year funding at a rate […]

Escaping from planet NIRP

The debate over the ECB’s exit strategy from its negative interest rate policy (NIRP) has started in earnest. Recent comments point to a possible reversal in the exit sequencing, with a deposit rate hike preceding the end of net asset purchases. A one-off adjustment in negative rates would have some merits, including for banks’ interest […]

ECB fine tunes communication as recovery broadens

The ECB delivered a fairly balanced, albeit more optimistic message at today’s press conference, echoing upward revisions to the staff projections for 2017-18 euro area GDP growth and inflation. Crucially, however, the 2019 projection for inflation was left unchanged at 1.7%. Looking ahead, the ECB’s four inflation criteria are unlikely to be fully met before […]

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