European Central Bank leaves interest rates at record lows, hints at more stimulus


He added that Thursday's discussions had not addressed extending QE beyond March. The talk was all of stocks of assets versus flows, tapering of purchases or not, extensions and end-dates.

The bank chief dismissed an early October Bloomberg report that the ECB was considering winding down - or tapering - its bond-buying programme, known as quantitative easing (QE).

Investors are concerned that a thriving dollar will pressure earnings across United States businesses which have exposure across the world and the dollars advance indicates views from investors that the Federal Reserve will raise rates in December when at the same time its European peer may issue additional liquidity.

The New Zealand dollar fell against a broadly stronger U.S. dollar after the European Central Bank said it was in no hurry to end quantitative easing measures, although the local currency is still on track for a 1.2 percent weekly gain. However, it later fell back to $1.0938.

His comments follow the ECB's decision to leave interest rates unchanged and to make no changes to the €80 billion per month bond-buying programme that is in place and due to run until March 2017.

"We also have a slightly firmer dollar on our hands, and I suspect the drop in the euro-dollar rate is as much to do with that as anything else", said Ray Attrill, global co-head of foreign-exchange strategy at National Australia Bank Ltd in Sydney.

The bank, he insisted, "is committed to preserving the very substantial degree of monetary accommodation" but that other policy measures, such as structural reforms by governments in the eurozone need to be "substantially stepped up".

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Right now, inflation is at 0.4 per cent - the highest in 2 years - and should go higher.

Analysts polled by Reuters unanimously expect unchanged rates with the vast majority predicting a three to six month extension to asset buys in December.

Their dashboard includes 18 selected financial, real economy and inflation variables to monitor the transmission of monetary stimulus through the euro-area economy, and evaluates to what extent monthly movements in each of these categories are in line with the ECB's objectives.

United States stocks ended a choppy session on Thursday slightly lower as investors digested the latest round of earnings, with a sharp drop in telecoms offset by gains in healthcare.

For the European Central Bank, the root of the problem is that inflation is still too weak and may not hit the target for another two to three years at the earliest.

What the ECB does over the coming months will hinge on economic developments, many of which the bank can do little about, such as the scale of the slowdown in China, the outlook for oil prices and the impact of Britain's exit from the European Union.

But the latest European Central Bank narrative did appear to confuse markets - at least momentarily.