The European Central Bank is set to meet tomorrow in Frankfurt, Germany to talk over and potentially update its monetary policy.
The ECB is scheduled to announce its latest monetary policy decision at 7:45 am ET. That will be followed by a press conference with ECB president Mario Draghi slated for 8:30 am ET.
Economists are expecting the central bank to cut interest rates, including putting its deposit facility rate into negative territory. The deposit facility is currently at 0.0%
The ECB’s benchmark interest rate is currently at 0.25%. That rate is expected to be cut between 10 and 15 basis points to either 0.15% or 0.10%.
A Bloomberg report earlier today, citing two euro-area central bank officials, said Draghi is likely to indicate that any interest rate cut will not be the final one.
In our ECB preview last week, we noted that economists at Goldman Sachs will be looking closely at Draghi’s delivery, noting that the “tone” of his communication will matter more for markets than the mechanics of what the central bank announces.
Inflation data out of the Eurozone this week has also kept the pressure on the ECB to act. Eurozone inflation, reported yesterday, grew at an annualized rate of 0.5%, lower than the 0.7% rate in April and below the 0.6% that was expected.
This chart from Pantheon Macroeconomics shows how the ECB has fallen short of its 2% inflation goal over the last year-plus.
Herve Amourda at Societe Generale said the inflation reading, “strengthens our call for bolder action from the ECB.” As we noted last week, Soc Gen’s Michael Martinez believes the ECB will signal an asset purchase program totaling EUR 25 billion per month beginning in the second half of the year.
Capital Economics’ Jack Allen believes that easing from the ECB will not necessarily weaken the euro, which has already weakened considerably against other currencies since the May ECB meeting.
The firm still sees the euro falling to $US1.30 from $US1.36 by year-end, but believes that short of announcing an asset purchase program, or quantitative easing, the currency’s reaction to tomorrow’s announcement will likely be muted.
Eurozone unemployment was also reported this week, and ticked down to 11.8% from 11.7%, but the currency-bloc’s employment recovery has been paltry at best.
Tomorrow, we’ll find out.