European Central Bank to weigh end to stimulus program


The European Central Bank (ECB) has confirmed it will end a huge program to stimulate the Euro-zone economy in December.

In the London session, the dollar was trading broadly weaker before the European Central Bank decision in the wake of the Fed's rate hikes, with future rate rises now priced in with a growing view that United States economic strength could be nearing its peak, analysts said.

The Euro slipped against other currency majors, tumbling by it's biggest amount since 2016 versus the Dollar, with a 1.9% fall.

The Australian sharemarket staged a relief-rally along with European stocks while the Australian dollar tumbled after the European Central Bank calmed eurozone rate rise fears last night. Stocks in Taiwan and Southeast Asia were lower.

The ECB said on Thursday it would end its hallmark bond purchase scheme by the close of the year but signalled that any interest rate hike is still distant.

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The ECB expects interest rates to stay at current levels at least through the summer of 2019. U.S. President Donald Trump was planning to meet with trade advisers later to decide whether to activate the tariffs, a senior administration official said on Wednesday.

Societe Generale macro strategist Kit Juckes said he foresaw further pain for the euro in the near-term.

Mr Draghi said: "With longer term inflation expectations well anchored, the underlying strength of the Euro area economy and the continuing ample degree of monetary accommodation provide grounds to be confident that the sustained convergence of inflation towards our aim will continue in the period ahead and will be maintained even after a gradual winding down of our net asset purchases".

The Dow Jones industrial average closed 0.1% lower on Thursday.

The ECB's bond buys - now set at €30 billion ($35 billion) a month - and ultra-low interest rates are created to stoke growth in the 19-nation single currency area and power inflation to the bank's target of just below 2 percent.

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Markets are on the lookout for clues from Bank of Japan governor Haruhiko Kuroda's post-meeting briefing at 6.30am GMT on how long the central bank could hold off on whittling down stimulus given stubbornly weak inflation. Tokyo ended 0.5 percent higher and Sydney added more than one percent.

At the same time, the Federal Reserve declared that it would likely increase the U.S. rates twice in 2018 and four times in 2019, according to AFP.

Boosted by the ECB's announcement and positive comments on the euro from politicians in Rome, Italy's government bonds were on course for best week since Mario's Draghi's "whatever it takes" Outright Monetary Transactions programme was created in September 2012.

West Texas Intermediate crude oil futures were down 0.2 per cent at US$66.76 per barrel; Brent was down 0.6 per cent at US$75.49.

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