European Central Bank raises eurozone growth forecast

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

NICOSIA, Cyprus (AP) — European Central Bank head Mario Draghi says Europe's economy is picking up.

The head of the monetary authority for the 19-country eurozone said Thursday that the bank was raising its growth forecast for this year to 1.5 percent from 1.0 percent.

"Looking ahead, we expect the economic recovery broaden and strengthen," he told reporters after the bank kept its key interest rate on hold at its monthly meeting.

He said the ECB would start on Monday its 1.1 trillion euro ($1.2 trillion) bond-purchase program to stimulate the recovery and raise the rate of inflation from a dangerously low 0.3 percent.

The ECB will buy 60 billion euros ($67 billion) per month in government and corporate bonds starting Monday.

Economists say the economy is showing signs of life in part due to increased confidence based on hopes for the stimulus program. Lower oil prices and a weaker euro have helped as well.

The euro got a temporary lift from Draghi's comments and was trading at $1.1084, against $1.1066 before the banker's comments.