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End to ECB bond buying possible in 2018, Bundesbank chief says

The European Central Bank may unwind its unconventional stimulus by the end of 2018 if economic growth continues and prices rise, Deutsche Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said.

Speaking in Frankfurt, Weidmann said the eurozone is expected to grow by 2.3% in 2018 and 1.9% in 2019. This robust growth should push inflation toward its target of below, but close to, 2%. Annual inflation in the eurozone was confirmed at 1.3% in January, down from 1.4% in the prior month, and core inflation ticked up to 1.0% from 0.9%.

The ECB reduced monthly asset purchases to €30 billion from €60 billion, starting last month, intending to run through September 2018 or beyond. "I believe there would have been a good case for reducing the asset purchases sooner and setting a clear end date," Weidmann said Feb. 27.

Investors expect the central bank to end its quantitative easing by the end of the year.

Weidmann, tipped as the next ECB president late in 2019, said the normalization process of monetary policy in the euro area will take "quite some time."

"I believe it is also important to gradually and dependably reduce the degree of monetary policy accommodation when the outlook for price developments in the euro area permit us to do so."