European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi. (Getty)
  • European Central bank announces the end of quantitative easing from December 2018.
  • The central bank has undertaken an unprecedented programme of stimulus since the eurozone debt crisis.
  • Interest rates remained unchanged at the ECB's June meeting.

The European Central Bank announced on Thursday that it will bring to an end the €2.5 trillion (more than R31 trillion) bond buying programme it has undertaken since the eurozone debt crisis.

Bond purchases are currently running at a maximum of €30 billion (R470 billion) per month, but will be lowered to €15 billion (R235 billion) per month from September, before being completely stopped at the end of December.

"The Governing Council anticipates that, after September 2018, subject to incoming data confirming the Governing Council’s medium-term inflation outlook, the monthly pace of the net asset purchases will be reduced to €15 billion until the end of December 2018 and that net purchases will then end," the ECB said in a statement.

Elsewhere, the central bank left its interest rates unchanged, meaning a deposit rate of -0.4%.

It said that it expects rates to remain at their current levels "at least through the summer of 2019" adding that rates will stay put "as long as necessary to ensure that the evolution of inflation remains aligned with the current expectations of a sustained adjustment path."

The euro slipped a little against the dollar on the news, falling around 0.35% on the day, to €1.175.

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The ECB's president, Mario Draghi, will take questions from the media. to discuss the bank's decision on Thursday afternoon.

The ECB shifts its policy meeting from Frankfurt to a euro zone capital once a year and Thursday's gathering is being held in Riga. Somewhat unfortunately, Latvia is currently unable to vote in ECB meetings, thanks to a legal dispute involving the governor of its central bank.

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