The European Central Bank (ECB) on Thursday decided to keep interest rates unchanged at their record low of 0.05 percent and announced it would start buying asset backed securities (ABS) to expand the balance sheet.
The ECB started to buy covered bonds last month and will soon start to purchase ABS under a program which will last for at least two years. The asset purchases and the targeted longer-term refinancing operations will have "a sizeable impact on our balance sheet", said the ECB president Mario Draghi at a press conference here.
He repeated that the balance sheet is expected to move towards the dimensions it had at the beginning of 2012.
The measures will further ease the monetary policy stance more broadly, said Draghi. The ECB has been making efforts to loosen its monetary policy as the inflation in the eurozone lingers on a low level.
"Should it become necessary to further address risks of too prolonged a period of low inflation, the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to using additional unconventional instruments within its mandate."
Investors are looking to more easing measures from the ECB as the economic recovery in the eurozone becomes weak. According to Draghi, the euro area real GDP increased by 0.1 percent, quarter on quarter, in the second quarter of this year.
"Since the summer months, incoming data and survey evidence have overall indicated a weakening in the euro area's growth momentum."
The flash estimate from the Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, showed that the annual inflation in the euro area rose to 0.4 percent in October from 0.3 percent in September. It is well below the level "but close to 2 percent" target of the ECB.