March 18, 2018 / 8:05 PM / a year ago

Weidmann: economic developments could allow ECB to end bond buys

German Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann at the annual news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, February 27, 2018. REUTERS/Ralph Orlowski

BERLIN (Reuters) - Positive economic developments and inflation forecasts could allow the European Central Bank to quickly end its bond purchases, Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann said in a German newspaper interview to be published on Monday.

Weidmann, a persistent critic of the ECB bond-buying scheme, told the newspaper Neue Osnabruecker Zeitung that the ECB had not decided when and how to end the practice, but market players expected the purchases to end around the end of 2018.

The interview was released to media ahead of publication.

“I personally think that the good economic developments and the inflation forecast would allow a rapid end to the bond purchases,” said Weidmann, who is expected to be Germany’s candidate to take over as ECB President when Mario Draghi’s term end late next year.

Weidmann last month said it was important to gradually reduce the degree of monetary policy accommodation.

The euro zone economy has been on its best run in a decade, in great part because of ECB efforts to keep borrowing costs at record lows to spur lending, spending and investment, all in the hope of generating inflation.

Investors now expect the ECB to end its 2.55 trillion-euro bond-purchase program by the close of the year, convinced that inflation will continue to rise, even if only slowly.

Analysts expect the bank’s deposit rate, at minus 0.4 percent, to rise in the middle of next year and reach zero by the end of the year.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal, editing by Larry King

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