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Lagarde comments at ECB press conference

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07/16/2020 | 09:45am EDT

The European Central Bank left policy unchanged on Thursday, as expected, scrutinising instead the effectiveness and any unwanted side-effects of its crisis-fighting measures.

Following are highlights of ECB President Christine Lagarde's comments at a post-policy meeting press conference.

ACTIVITY RESUMES

Incoming information ... signals a resumption of euro area economic activity, although the level of activity remains well below the levels prevailing before the coronavirus pandemic, and the outlook remains highly uncertain.

UNEVEN, PARTIAL RECOVERY

Both high-frequency and survey indicators bottomed out in April and showed a significant, though uneven and partial, recovery in May and June alongside the ongoing containment of the virus and the associated easing of the lockdown measures.

JOB LOSSES WEIGH

Actual and expected job and income losses and the exceptionally elevated uncertainty about the evolution of the pandemic and the economic outlook continue to weigh on consumer spending and on business investment.

PRICE PRESSURE VERY SUBDUED

Headline inflation is being dampened by lower energy prices and price pressures are expected to remain very subdued on account of the sharp decline in real GDP growth and the associated significant increase in economic slack.

UNCERTAIN OUTLOOK

Uncertainty over the scale of the rebound remains high ... The balance of risks remain on the downside.

AMPLE STIMULUS

Ample monetary stimulus remains necessary to support the economic recovery and to safeguard medium-term price stability.

SLOWER PACE

We have slowed down a little bit the pace of purchases. Unless there were significant upside surprise (to economic outlook), our baseline remains we will use the entire envelope of PEPP.

NEXT GENERATION

We strongly welcome the European Commission's EU next generation proposal. It will need to be firmly rooted in sound structural policies.

FRONTLOADED PEPP

We have front-loaded (PEPP) purchases - just to remind you, we have purchased over 360 billion euros in the first couple of months and that was at the end of June, effectively.

PEPP PLANS

It is effective, it is adequate and it is working. We have not discussed that (altering PEPP programme) ... We do not see a need to revisit.

GOOD PLACE

During this meeting of the Governing Council, we really spent a good deal of time looking at the economic circumstances ... And really, seeing the developments in the economy, we really felt that we were in a good place at the moment.

We have taken into account the risk of a second wave.

IMPROVED SENTIMENT

Financial market sentiment has improved.

Compared with the time of the PEPP announcement, euro investment-grade corporate spreads declined by more than 80 basis points while high-yield spreads declined by more than 250 basis points, so we see significant improvements. But having said that we are not exactly back to where were before the pandemic started.

For example, government bond yields are still higher in most jurisdictions than they were before the pandemic and this is highly relevant from a monetary policy stance.

(Reporting by Larry King)

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