ECB's Draghi concerned by potential USA tariffs


The bank left unchanged its key interest rates as well as the size of its bond-buying stimulus program after its latest policy meeting. But it skipped a reference to bigger purchases, a signal that it remains on track to end a three-year-old stimulus scheme before the end of 2018.

European Central Bank head Mario Draghi expressed concern about U.S. President Donald Trump's announced trade measures, saying the immediate spillover "is not going to be big" but that "unilateral decisions are unsafe".

The ECB bankers at their previous meeting have expressed the view that it is too early to change their position on the normalization of monetary policy, even to increase the confidence that inflation will reach its target.

This assessment is also broadly reflected in the March 2018 European Central Bank staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area, which foresee annual HICP inflation at 1.4 percent in 2018, 1.4 percent in 2019 and 1.7 percent in 2020.

The currency marked a 1-1/2 month low of 1.3712 last week and was just 1 percent above those levels. At the same time, measures of underlying inflation remain subdued and have yet to show convincing signs of a sustained upward trend.

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"Our mandate is in terms of price stability".

While few if any actually expect purchase volumes to rise, such a tweak would suggest policymakers are increasingly confident that their 2.55 trillion bond buys could finally end this year after several extensions.

With the central bank as conservative as the ECB, that is judging not twice but, ten times before it changes a single word in its statement is such change radical, regardless of what Draghi says in the press conference. The headline consumer price inflation projection was unchanged at 1.4 percent for 2018, while 2019's forecast was revised down a bit to 1.4 percent and kept unchanged at 1.7 percent for 2020.

Poland's zloty touched a three-month low against the euro a day after its central bank governor said its first rate increase might come a year later than previously expected.

The most important fallout, Draghi said, would be if tariffs raised fears about the economy.

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"If you put tariffs against your allies, one wonders who the enemies are".

Investors were concerned that the proposed tariffs could trigger inflation and retaliation from U.S. trade partners, including the European Union (EU), China, and Canada.

Draghi warned that tariffs lead to retaliation which lead to currency volatility and economic uncertainty, potentially complicating its decision.

Bond markets were also steady with 10-year U.S. Treasury yields stuck at 2.87 percent and Germany's benchmark barely budged at 0.67 percent having hit a five-week low of 0.60 percent on Monday.

He told the Financial Times last month that he believes the allegations are a result of his efforts to have banks undergo audits by USA law firms in 2016 and 2017, which lowered their profits. The main repurchasing interest rate at zero, the deposit facility rate at -0.4% and maintaining its commitment to €30bn in monthly asset purchases until at least September under its tapered quantitative easing programme.

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