European Central Bank keeps interest rates on hold as growth picks up

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As expected, the central bank kept its refinancing, marginal lending facility and deposit facility rates unchanged at 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively. All of those predictions have been raised by 0.1%.

Draghi presented said that the ECB's economists "foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.5% in 2017, 1.3% in 2018 and 1.6% in 2019". By comparison with the March 2017 European Central Bank staff macroeconomic projections, the outlook for headline HICP inflation has been revised downwards, mainly reflecting lower oil prices. These figures would all put inflation below the European Central Bank target of around 2%, which has concerned traders considering future interest rate hikes.

However, Draghi notes the risk assessment of growth is now broadly balanced, as opposed to being biased to the downside.

However, he also emphasised the "flexibility" that he felt was in the system and made it clear that he backed ongoing stimulus measures - notably the bond-buying programme - as a crucial part of pushing inflation back towards target.

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At that rate, the 19 countries that use the euro would see growth at 2.3% this year, almost double the rate of the U.S., which is on course to grow 1.2%.

Oil fell for a second day to hit one-month lows after an unexpected surge in USA inventories and the return of more Nigerian crude aggravated investor concerns about an already oversupplied market.

The European Central Bank signalled today it planned no further interest rate cuts as eurozone prospects improved, but said subdued inflation meant it would continue to pump more stimulus into the region's economy.

CURRENCIES: The euro was down 0.4 percent at $1.1207 while the dollar rose 0.3 percent to 110.13 yen.

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Eurostat said gross fixed capital formation contributed 0.3 percentage points, household consumption 0.2 points and government consumption 0.1 points to the first-quarter growth figure.

"If you look at the pace of inflation excluding energy and food, you realize that we are back to a rate that we've seen many times before, namely 0.9 percent", said Michael Schubert, ECB analyst at Germany's second-largest lender Commerzbank. Draghi argued that low core inflation is mostly due to subdued wages, which he attributes to many factors, including, but especially structural changes. The ECB has slashed interest rates, including its main one to zero, and embarked on a big bond-buying stimulus program to keep a lid on market interest rates. "The pass-through of our monetary policy has never been so effective as it is today".

It is completely legitimate to expect that the Fed will raise rates next week and it will be interesting to see what the FOMC will hint about the path forward of the Fed's tightening situation. In a further blow for euro bulls, Draghi confirmed that the Governing Council had not discussed policy normalization at the June meeting, suggesting such a debate probably won't start before the September meeting.

The EUR/USD moved lower following the ECB's decision to leave interest rates unchanged and drop their easing bias, taking up a neutral stance on how they will view monetary policy.

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