ECB promises 'firm' roll-out of money printing

Wed Apr 15, 2015 1:28pm EDT
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By Jonathan Gould and John O'Donnell

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The head of the European Central Bank pledged on Wednesday to roll out its money-printing program 'firmly' and granted continued backing for Greece, saying there was no need yet to limit emergency funding for its banks.

Describing speculation that the fledgling 60 billion euro a month scheme would be scaled back as "surprising", Mario Draghi underlined his determination to see through quantitative easing until September 2016, or until inflation was back up to target.

"Our focus will be on the full implementation of our monetary policy measures," Mario Draghi told a news conference after the ECB left interest rates at record lows.

At the last count, euro zone inflation was running at -0.1 percent. The ECB's target is below but close to 2 percent.

"Through these measures we will contribute to a further improvement in the economic outlook," Draghi said, predicting that the economy would 'strengthen gradually'.

Draghi's news conference was interrupted when a young woman sitting in the front row among journalists leapt onto the podium, shouting 'end the ECB dictatorship'.

She showered confetti as she stood over Draghi, who held his hands above his head before she was taken away by security guards. Recent violent protests in Frankfurt targeted the ECB for the spending cuts demanded in Greece and elsewhere.

The ECB's main refinancing rate, which determines the cost of credit, is now just 0.05 percent, while the ECB's deposit rate, which means banks pay to park funds at the central bank and has the most influence on market rates, is -0.2 percent.   Continued...

The famous skyline with its banking district (C ) and the new headquarter of the European Central Bank (ECB, R) is pictured in Frankfurt early evening April 13, 2015. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach