ECB to Scale Down Bond-Buying Program into 2018

By Tom Fairless Features Dow Jones Newswires

The European Central Bank said Thursday that it will scale down its giant bond-buying program while extending it deep into 2018, in a keenly awaited move that sets the eurozone on a path toward higher interest rates as its long economic crisis recedes.

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In a policy statement, the ECB said it would continue to buy bonds through September 2018, but that the pace of its purchases would fall to EUR30 billion ($35 billion) a month from EUR60 billion after December this year. The bank also left its key interest rates unchanged.

The decision treads a careful path between the ECB's growing confidence that the eurozone's economic recovery, now into its fifth year, can proceed with less support from Frankfurt, and concerns that inflation--the ECB's primary focus--remains too weak.

It is the third time that the ECB has extended its calendar for bond purchases, known as quantitative easing, or QE. The latest move will push the overall size of the program above EUR2.5 trillion, or almost a quarter of the region's economic output, and more than double its originally planned size.

Write to Tom Fairless at tom.fairless@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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October 26, 2017 08:06 ET (12:06 GMT)