Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank (ECB), pauses during a news conference following the bank’s interest rate decision, at the ECB headquarters in Frankfurt, Germany (Photographer: Alex Kraus/Bloomberg)

ECB Outlook Is Said to See Solid Growth Similar to December View

(Bloomberg) -- The European Central Bank’s new forecasts will show growth and inflation similar to the picture of solid economic momentum seen three months ago, according to euro-area officials familiar with the matter.

The prediction for 2018’s expansion has been raised by 0.2 percentage point, the people said, asking not to be identified because the information is confidential. They said the adjustments to the projections are largely due to rounding and also result in a slightly more pessimistic view of inflation next year.

The numbers aren’t final until they are revealed by ECB President Mario Draghi at a press conference in Frankfurt at 2:30 p.m. An ECB spokesman declined to comment.

The ECB’s forecasts in December saw gross domestic product rising 2.3 percent in 2018, before cooling somewhat in subsequent years. Inflation at the time was predicted to pick up very gradually from an average of 1.4 percent this year.

ECB Outlook Is Said to See Solid Growth Similar to December View

The minor tweaks to the numbers mean the Governing Council has little reason to deviate from its plan to move only very gradually toward unwinding stimulus. Economists predict a first change in guidance on asset purchases and interest rates in June, and say bond buying will come to a halt by the end of the year.

While the outlook for the economy hasn’t changed much, a key risk the ECB identified in January has materialized in the form of U.S. President Donald Trump’s intention to impose trade tariffs. No ECB policy maker has publicly commented on the proposed measures, which were announced during the central bank’s one-week quiet period before Thursday’s policy announcement.

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