European Central Bank returns from holiday -- leaves policy unchanged

LONDON — The European Central Bank returned from its summer break on Thursday, leaving monetary policy unchanged from its previous meeting at the beginning of August.

That means the bank maintaining a deposit rate of -0.4%, a refinancing rate of 0.0%, and a quantitative easing programme of up to €60 billion per month.

No change was widely expected, with markets virtually certain that the ECB would stay on hold in September.

The bank’s statement announcing its decision was virtually identical to that delivered after the August meeting.

Following the announcement, focus will switch to any hints from President Mario Draghi during his post-announcement press conference about the future direction of policy, and when the ECB will start to taper QE further. Draghi will speak to the media after 1.30 p.m. BST (8.30 a.m. ET).

The ECB is due to make a decision about whether it will continue asset buying at its current pace, or continue the tapering process toward ending QE, in December this year.

The bank already reduced its programme from €80 billion per month to €60 billion earlier in 2017, and Draghi hinted in July that Autumn would be when it started to discuss tapering further.

However, since then the euro has strengthened aggressively against the dollar, something that is likely to dissuade the bank from making any tapering decision just yet.

Draghi will likely address any decision on these discussions during his press conference, but is not expected to make any announcements just yet.

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