At its monetary policy meeting on 13 December, the Governing Council decided to end the net asset purchases in December 2018, while keeping the key ECB interest rates unchanged and enhancing the forward guidance on reinvestment. While incoming information has been weaker than expected, reflecting softer external demand but also some country and sector-specific factors, the underlying strength of domestic demand continues to underpin the euro area expansion and gradually rising inflation pressures. This supports the Governing Council’s confidence that the sustained convergence of inflation to its aim will proceed and will be maintained even after the end of the net asset purchases. At the same time, uncertainties related to geopolitical factors, the threat of protectionism, vulnerabilities in emerging markets and financial market volatility remain prominent. Therefore, significant monetary policy stimulus is still needed to support the further build-up of domestic price pressures and headline inflation developments over the medium term.
The Governing Council’s forward guidance on the key ECB interest rates, reinforced by the reinvestments of the sizeable stock of acquired assets, continues to provide the necessary degree of monetary accommodation for the sustained convergence of inflation to its aim. In any event, the Governing Council stands ready to adjust all of its instruments, as appropriate, to ensure that inflation continues to move towards its inflation aim in a sustained manner.