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Agreement To Look Through Oil-Driven Inflation Surge — ECB Minutes

17 February 2017, 07:07 | Melvin Schneider

But that debate is still some way off, according to the minutes.

While some economic signs have pointed upwards, officials decided that "the fundamental picture remained largely unaltered and there was no room for complacency, as risks and uncertainties had not receded substantially", the minutes read.

The ECB should "remain patient and maintain a "steady hand" in the face of "a high level of uncertainty", including risks "related to the political environment at the global level and within the euro area", the minutes said. Several ECB officials have also expressed concerns about possible economic policy changes in the USA under President Donald Trump, including an unraveling of financial regulation and a tilt toward protectionism.

Core inflation, which strips out volatile components such as fuel, remains at only 0.9 per cent across the bloc despite headline annual consumer price rises of 1.8 per cent reported in January.

The rise in United Kingdom inflation over the past twelve months - from 0.3pc to 1.8pc - has been exactly the same as in the Eurozone.

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The increase in assets also gave an historic boost to the bottom line of both the European Central Bank and its satellites, as net profits (mostly from interest income) grew by €111 million to just under €1.2 billion.

The governing council will "look through the volatility in short-term data if judged transient and to have no implication for the medium-term outlook for price stability", the minutes said.

The ECB and the other euro zone's central banks are lending out part the 1.3 trillion euros ($1.38 trillion) of government debt they have bought since 2015.

"The limits to the [ECB's] asset-purchase program are approaching", said Stephen Brown, an economist with Capital Economics in London. With asset purchases spread across the 19 central banks that use the single currency, the collective balance sheet of the Eurosystem swelled by a third to €3.662 trillion, the ECB said. "We expect the European Central Bank to begin tapering in 2018".

Although Executive Board member Yves Mersch recent called on the bank to remove the prospect of lower rates from its guidance, policymakers at the meeting widely agreed to keep the guidance intact, the ECB said in a document that did not show evidence of serious disagreement.



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