The European Central Bank left its ultra-easy policy stance in place on Thursday as inflation continues to undershoot its target but explicitly acknowledged the vigour of the euro zone economy, now on its best run since the global financial crisis. David Pollard reports.
SOUNDBITE (English) MARIO DRAGHI, ECB PRESIDENT, SAYING: "The cyclical recovery of the euro area economy is becoming increasingly solid ..." It was a day to watch the euro as much as the chief of the European Central Bank. As the single currency was first boosted by that remark. Then flung down again ... as Draghi was asked about exiting QE. SOUNDBITE (English) MARIO DRAGHI, ECB PRESIDENT, SAYING: "I don't think there is any need to discuss this now. We have not seen any evidence, or any sufficient evidence, to alter our assessment of the inflation outlook." All policy left in place - inflation still subdued, Draghi said. Despite being repeatedly upbeat about the euro zone economy. SOUNDBITE (English) MARIO DRAGHI, ECB PRESIDENT, SAYING: "It's true that the growth is improving. Things are going better." What risks there are, he stressed, come principally from global factors. And while questioned over the risk politics pose at home, would not be drawn. Perhaps, say analysts, because of the very risk itself. SOUNDBITE (English) OANDA SENIOR MARKET ANALYST, CRAIG ERLAM, SAYING: "We're right in the middle of a French election. We've seen the first round of voting go favourably for the euro area. We've still got the second round to come. I think Mario Draghi and the ECB are going to want to avoid doing anything that could potentially feed into Marine Le Pen's narrative." Draghi himself noted still high euro zone unemployment and the need for reforms. Overall, though, analysts note a gradual dismantling of the arguments for the ECB's 2.3 trillion euros asset purchase programme. No obvious sign of an exit from QE yet perhaps .... But the door could still be open to a broader hint of policy change in June.