Spooked by slowdown, the ECB rolls out stimulus

THE EUROPEAN CENTRAL BANK is usually a predictable beast, shy of springing monetary-policy surprises. Take, for instance, its move to halt new asset purchases last year: it had been telegraphed for so long that traders could have got away with sleeping through it. But anyone dozing on a trading floor on March 7th would have been in trouble. The ECB announced two measures to counter a slowing of the euro zone’s economy. The bank pledged to keep interest rates on hold for longer—“at least through the end of 2019”—having previously said it would keep rates at rock-bottom until the summer. And it announced a third round of “targeted longer-term refinancing operations” (TLTRO-III), which will make cheap loans to banks. The euro fell by 0.6% against the dollar, to its lowest level against the greenback since mid-November.
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