The European Central Bank will reduce its monthly bond purchases next year in a step toward ending a program that has spent more than 2 trillion euros ($2.4 trillion) trying to revive euro-area inflation.
Policy makers agreed to scale back buying to 30 billion euros a month starting in January and continue for nine months until the end of September, a decision that was in line with economists’ estimates. That’ll take its total holdings to at least 2.55 trillion euros.
Still, the central bank also emphasized that it’ll move extremely cautiously. It kept its pledge to step up or extend buying further if needed, changed the language on its reinvestment strategy for maturing debt, and reiterated that banks will be able to borrow as much as they need in refinancing operations.
“The door is left open to extend the asset-purchase program yet again,” said Ken Wattret, an economist at TS Lombard in London. “Though the likelihood of this happening for a fourth time looks rather lower now for various reasons, including the positive economic outlook.”