ECB open to broad asset buys if inflation outlook changes -Draghi

FRANKFURT Thu Aug 7, 2014 9:04am EDT

FRANKFURT Aug 7 (Reuters) - The European Central Bank is ready to embark on a broad-based asset-purchase programme should its medium-term inflation assessment change, ECB President Mario Draghi said on Thursday.

Euro zone inflation slowed last month to just 0.4 percent - its lowest since the height of the financial crisis in 2009, and further below the ECB's target of just under 2 percent.

The ECB's June staff forecasts pointed to inflation rising slowly to 1.5 percent in the final quarter of 2016.

"I can only reaffirm that the Governing Council is unanimous in its commitment to also use unconventional measures like ABS purchases, like QE, if our medium-term outlook for inflation were to change," Draghi told a news conference after the ECB left rates unchanged at record lows.

Such an asset purchase scheme - known as quantitative easing, or QE - could be difficult for the ECB's Governing Council to agree on, however, as some policymakers are highly resistant to the idea.

"We have intensified preparations on the ABS, the various committees of the ECB are now working on that," Draghi said, referring to asset-backed securities.

"We are proceeding with our work regardless what the timing is for possible regulatory changes in this area." (Writing by Paul Carrel, Hugh Lawson; Editing by Catherine Evans)

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