European Central Bank monetary stimulus still needed to push up inflation -Draghi

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U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin said this week he welcomed a weak dollar, arguing that it was good for U.S. trade, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said "U.S. troops are now coming to the ramparts" in global trade wars. The higher euro can become a headache for Europe as it can hurt its exporters and weigh on inflation, which is already worryingly low. Those remarks broke with a twenty-year US policy of speaking in favor of a strong dollar.

His task was made even more delicate overnight when top USA officials made their case for a weak dollar, sending the greenback to a three year low against the euro and raising fears of renewed trade wars.

"The recent volatility in exchange rates represents a source of uncertainty which requires monitoring with regard to its possible implications for the medium-term outlook for price stability", Draghi said at a press conference.

His comments were optimistic and this helped to underpin the the single currency, lifting the Key EUR/USD exchange rate to above 1.25. At today's meeting, the Governing Council of the European Central Bank decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility should remain unchanged - 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40%, respectively.

One risk, however, is that other countries might retaliate by taking measures that lower their currency.

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Draghi made his comments at a news conference following a decision by the bank's 25-member governing council to leave its stimulus programs and interest rates unchanged.

However, the euro has continued to make gains against the United States dollar as continued strength in eurozone domestic economic data has prompted speculation that the European Central Bank could adopt a more hawkish stance this year.

Stimulus withdrawal has been much discussed in markets because the eurozone economy is growing strongly.

Credit to businesses grew by 2.9 percent year-on-year last month, adjusting for some purely financial transactions, a drop of 0.2 percentage points compared with the figure for November.

"The euro's strong performance at the start of 2018 has been aided by upbeat" economic data, said Stamenkovic at NFS Macro. Its rate of minus 0.4 percent on deposits it takes from commercial banks was also unchanged.

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