Excerpt from the statement by Mario Draghi, President of the ECB:
Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the key ECB interest rates unchanged. Incoming information continues to indicate that the moderate recovery of the euro area economy is proceeding in line with our previous assessment. At the same time, recent information remains consistent with our expectation of a prolonged period of low inflation followed by only a gradual upward movement in HICP inflation rates. The signals from the monetary analysis confirm the picture of subdued underlying price pressures in the euro area over the medium term. Inflation expectations for the euro area over the medium to long term remain firmly anchored in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below, but close to, 2%.
Looking ahead, we will monitor economic developments and money markets very closely. We will maintain a high degree of monetary accommodation and act swiftly, if required, with further monetary policy easing. We firmly reiterate that we continue to expect the key ECB interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time. This expectation is based on an overall subdued outlook for inflation extending into the medium term, given the broad-based weakness of the economy, the high degree of unutilised capacity, and subdued money and credit creation. The Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using also unconventional instruments within its mandate in order to cope effectively with risks of a too prolonged period of low inflation. Further information and analysis concerning the outlook for inflation and the availability of bank loans to the private sector will be available in early June.
The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area continue to be on the downside. Geopolitical risks, as well as developments in global financial markets and emerging market economies, may have the potential to affect economic conditions negatively. Other downside risks include weaker than expected domestic demand and insufficient implementation of structural reforms in euro area countries, as well as weaker export growth.
According to Eurostat’s flash estimate, euro area annual HICP inflation was 0.7% in April 2014, up from 0.5% in March. As expected, given the timing of Easter, the increase was mainly due to a rise in services prices. On the basis of current information, annual HICP inflation is expected to remain around present low levels over the coming months, before only gradually increasing during 2015 to reach levels closer to 2% towards the end of 2016. New macroeconomic projections by Eurosystem staff will become available in early June. Medium to long-term inflation expectations remain firmly anchored in line with price stability.
The Governing Council sees both upside and downside risks to the outlook for price developments as limited and broadly balanced over the medium term. In this context, the possible repercussions of both geopolitical risks and exchange rate developments will be monitored closely.