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Pressure grows on ECB to take action

Friday, November 29, 2013 - 01:56

Nov 29 - Europe's investors put the economy under forensic examination again, as, after October's shop drop, they looked to a tick-up in November consumer prices to calm fears of deflation. The data release came as S&P downgraded the Netherlands' credit rating - but upgraded Spain's outlook. Joanna Partridge reports

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Goodbye to triple A for the Netherlands. The land of tulips and windmills was one of the few euro zone members left with a gold-plated credit rating. But Standard and Poor's says the growth outlook is worsening. S&P's Dutch decision leaves just Germany, Finland and Luxembourg in the single currency with the top rating. Robert Cole from Reuters Breaking Views was surprised by the timing of the cut. SOUNDBITE: Robert Cole, Assistant Editor, Reuters Breaking Views, saying (English): "What we want to be doing is looking forward to the next stage, whereas this is as it were looking back to the crises that did hit the Netherlands very badly in a similar kind of way to the UK, you know with a housing bubble, an overinflated financial sector. But these are things that I think you know the Netherlands is getting its head around and its arms around and so we should be looking forward." S&P didn't just bear bad news - it improved its outlook for Spain - rewarding Madrid for its attempts to reform its public finances. Fears surrounding Spain and Italy have eased in the past six months. But the euro zone is still struggling to generate growth - which it badly needs to start bringing down unemployment and tackling debt. Consumer inflation there rose in November to 0.9%, slightly more than expected. The numbers were being closely watched by the ECB, ahead of their meeting in the first week of December. It supports their view that there's no risk of deflation in the bloc. Despite that, the central bank is under pressure to take further action. SOUNDBITE: Ian Stannard, Head of European FX Strategy, saying (English): "Now we're not expecting them to do any - take any firm action until the first quarter of next year, maybe towards the end of that quarter. But I think they will remain on the dovish side. They will continue to send a quite dovish message to the market." That message could put the euro under pressure. Most analysts don't believe another rate cut is imminent. But they think the ECB could start considering specific measures to boost credit growth - and that could even come as soon as December.

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Pressure grows on ECB to take action

Friday, November 29, 2013 - 01:56