Swedish cbank holds rates as expected, extends QE programme

STOCKHOLM, April 21 (Reuters) - Sweden’s central bank held its benchmark rate unchanged at -0.50 percent as expected on Thursday and said it would expand its asset purchase programme.

“The Executive Board has decided to purchase government bonds for a further SEK 45 billion during the second half of 2016,” the central bank said in a statement.

“This will reduce the risk of the krona appreciating faster than in the forecast and of a break in the upturn in inflation.”

With the economy motoring along strongly - growth reached 4.1 percent last year - and inflation topping the central bank’s expectations for three months in a row, many analysts believe the central bank is drawing close to the end of its easing cycle.

Reporting by Simon Johnson; editing by John Stonestreet and Niklas Pollard