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MNI (London)
     LONDON (MNI) - Below is the text released by the European Central Bank
Governing Council of President Mario Draghi's opening statement at the post
council meeting:
     ===========================================================================
     Mario Draghi, President of the ECB, 
Luis de Guindos, Vice-President of the ECB, 
     Frankfurt am Main, 26 July 2018 
     INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT 
     Ladies and gentlemen, the Vice-President and I are very pleased to welcome
you to our press conference. We will now report on the outcome of today's
meeting of the Governing Council.
     Based on our regular economic and monetary analyses, we decided to keep the
key ECB interest rates unchanged. We continue to expect them to remain at their
present levels at least through the summer of 2019, and in any case for as long
as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to
levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term.
     Regarding non-standard monetary policy measures, we will continue to make
net purchases under the asset purchase programme (APP) at the current monthly
pace of E30 billion until the end of September 2018. We anticipate that, after
September 2018, subject to incoming data confirming our medium-term inflation
outlook, we will reduce the monthly pace of the net asset purchases to E15
billion until the end of December 2018 and then end net purchases. We intend to
reinvest the principal payments from maturing securities purchased under the APP
for an extended period of time after the end of our net asset purchases, and in
any case for as long as necessary to maintain favourable liquidity conditions
and an ample degree of monetary accommodation.
     While uncertainties, notably related to the global trade environment,
remain prominent, the information available since our last monetary policy
meeting indicates that the euro area economy is proceeding along a solid and
broad-based growth path. The underlying strength of the economy confirms our
confidence that the sustained convergence of inflation to our aim will continue
in the period ahead and will be maintained even after a gradual winding-down of
our net asset purchases. Nevertheless, significant monetary policy stimulus is
still needed to support the further build-up of domestic price pressures and
headline inflation developments over the medium term. This support will continue
to be provided by the net asset purchases until the end of the year, by the
sizeable stock of acquired assets and the associated reinvestments, and by our
enhanced forward guidance on the key ECB interest rates. In any event, the
Governing Council stands ready to adjust all of its instruments as appropriate
to ensure that inflation continues to move towards the Governing Council's
inflation aim in a sustained manner.
     Let me now explain our assessment in greater detail, starting with the
economic analysis. Quarterly real GDP growth moderated to 0.4% in the first
quarter of 2018, following growth of 0.7% in the previous three quarters. This
easing reflects a pull-back from the very high levels of growth in 2017 and is
related mainly to weaker impetus from previously very strong external trade,
compounded by an increase in uncertainty and some temporary and supply-side
factors at both the domestic and the global level. The latest economic
indicators and survey results have stabilised and continue to point to ongoing
solid and broad-based economic growth, in line with the June 2018 Eurosystem
staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area. Our monetary policy measures,
which have facilitated the deleveraging process, continue to underpin domestic
demand. Private consumption is supported by ongoing employment gains, which, in
turn, partly reflect past labour market reforms, and by growing household
wealth. Business investment is fostered by the favourable financing conditions,
rising corporate profitability and solid demand. Housing investment remains
robust. In addition, the broad-based expansion in global demand is expected to
continue, thus providing impetus to euro area exports.
     The risks surrounding the euro area growth outlook can still be assessed as
broadly balanced. Uncertainties related to global factors, notably the threat of
protectionism, remain prominent. Moreover, the risk of persistent heightened
financial market volatility continues to warrant monitoring.
     Euro area annual HICP inflation increased to 2.0% in June 2018, from 1.9%
in May, reflecting mainly higher energy and food price inflation. On the basis
of current futures prices for oil, annual rates of headline inflation are likely
to hover around the current level for the remainder of the year. While measures
of underlying inflation remain generally muted, they have been increasing from
earlier lows. Domestic cost pressures are strengthening and broadening amid high
levels of capacity utilisation and tightening labour markets. Uncertainty around
the inflation outlook is receding. Looking ahead, underlying inflation is
expected to pick up towards the end of the year and thereafter to increase
gradually over the medium term, supported by our monetary policy measures, the
continuing economic expansion, the corresponding absorption of economic slack
and rising wage growth.
     Turning to the monetary analysis, broad money (M3) growth increased to 4.4%
in June 2018, up from 4.0% in May. M3 growth continues to benefit from the
impact of the ECB's monetary policy measures and the low opportunity cost of
holding the most liquid deposits. The narrow monetary aggregate M1 remained the
main contributor to broad money growth.
     The recovery in the growth of loans to the private sector observed since
the beginning of 2014 is proceeding. The annual growth rate of loans to
non-financial corporations rose to 4.1% in June 2018, after 3.7% in the previous
month, while the annual growth rate of loans to households remained unchanged at
2.9%. The euro area bank lending survey for the second quarter of 2018 indicates
that loan growth continues to be supported by easing credit standards and
increasing demand across all loan categories.
     The pass-through of the monetary policy measures put in place since June
2014 continues to significantly support borrowing conditions for firms and
households, access to financing - in particular for small and medium-sized
enterprises - and credit flows across the euro area.
     To sum up, a cross-check of the outcome of the economic analysis with the
signals coming from the monetary analysis confirmed that an ample degree of
monetary accommodation is still necessary for the continued sustained
convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the
medium term.
     In order to reap the full benefits from our monetary policy measures, other
policy areas must contribute more decisively to raising the longer-term growth
potential and reducing vulnerabilities. The implementation of structural reforms
in euro area countries needs to be substantially stepped up to increase
resilience, reduce structural unemployment and boost euro area productivity and
growth potential. Regarding fiscal policies, the ongoing broad-based expansion
calls for rebuilding fiscal buffers. This is particularly important in countries
where government debt remains high. All countries would benefit from
intensifying efforts towards achieving a more growth-friendly composition of
public finances. A full, transparent and consistent implementation of the
Stability and Growth Pact and of the macroeconomic imbalance procedure over time
and across countries remains essential to increase the resilience of the euro
area economy. Improving the functioning of Economic and Monetary Union remains a
priority. The Governing Council urges specific and decisive steps to complete
the banking union and the capital markets union.
     We are now at your disposal for questions.
--MNI London Bureau; tel: +44 203-586-2225; email: les.commons@marketnews.com
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MNI London Bureau | +44 203-865-3812 | les.commons@marketnews.com