(Adds context from France and ECB)
PARIS, July 4 (Reuters) - European Central Bank Governing Council member Christian Noyer said on Friday that the strong level of the euro currency was weighing heavily on economic activity and inflation and that it would be logical for it to depreciate.
The remark echoed a call from French Prime Minister Manuel Valls this week urging the European Central Bank to bring down what he said was an “overvalued” euro and pressing it to purchase assets on the market.
“We have no exchange rate goal. But, it (the euro) is an element that weighs heavily on economic activity and inflation. It would be logical, given the disparity with the U.S. cycle, that the euro depreciate a bit,” Noyer told the French magazine Investir.
Noyer also said the “Eurosystem” of European Central Bank and euro zone national central banks had the capacity to launch an asset-buying programme, though he said its effectiveness may be limited.
“Yes, let’s be clear, the Eurosystem can indeed launch a programme of asset-buying while respecting its mandate on price stability,” he said. “A programme could include both public and private assets.”
ECB chief Mario Draghi has said large-scale asset purchases are part of the bank’s toolkit, but that for now the bank will focus on its latest set of stimulus measures, whose impact will be assessed in the later part of this year.
A Reuters poll of economists points to a one-in-three chance of the ECB launching an asset purchase programme within 12 months.
Reporting By Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Ingrid Melander and Kevin Liffey