Draghi warms up printing press as sluggish eurozone disappointsComments Off on Draghi warms up printing press as sluggish eurozone disappoints
Europe’s top central banker, “Super” Mario Draghi, was under pressure to pump yet more cash into an ailing eurozone today after the latest signs of sluggish growth from the single-currency bloc.
The European Central Bank boss dropped a broad hint in January that rate-setters would consider more action in March — potentially expanding the €1.4 billion (£1.1 billion) quantitative-easing programme launched a year ago.
The combined economies of the 19 nations using the euro expanded 0.3% in the final three months of last year but experts said this would not be strong enough to bring inflation back to its target of just below 2%.
ABN Amro economist Nick Kounis said: “Headwinds for the eurozone economy are mounting, with financial conditions tightening, not least due to the global market turmoil and the strength of the euro. Furthermore, the global economic environment is become increasingly troubled. We continue to think that further monetary easing is required, with further policy rate cuts on the cards from March onwards.”
There were some bright spots — notably 0.8% growth for Spain. But figures showed France and Germany — the main engines of eurozone growth — expanding at just 0.3% and 0.2% respectively. Italy and Portugal also disappointed.
Chris Williamson, chief economist at financial-data firm Markit, said: “With the exception of Spain, the fourth-quarter growth rates are clearly frustratingly modest.”