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ECB says no talk of exiting bond purchase programme yet

European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi says the bank is a "long way" from considering phasing out the current ultra-easy monetary conditions (AFP Photo/Nicholas Kamm)

Frankfurt (AFP) - European Central Bank president Mario Draghi said Wednesday that the ECB is a "long way" from considering phasing out its controversial bond purchase programme any time soon.

Asked whether the ECB was currently considering an "exit strategy" from a raft of unconventional policy measures, Draghi told a news conference: "No. The answer is no. We're really far from that."

In March, the ECB embarked on a programme of so-called quantitative easing, or QE, buying up 1.14 trillion euros ($1.3 trillion) in assets -- at a rate of 60 billion euros per month -- until September 2016.

The aim is to inject liquidity into the financial system and push up the eurozone's chronically low rate of inflation.

The programme was controversial, with critics such as Bundesbank chief Jens Weidmann arguing it took pressure off governments to get their economies and finances in order and was tantamount to printing money to pay off governments' debts.

"The asset purchase programmes are proceeding well," Draghi said.

"Our monetary policy measures have contributed to a broad-based easing in financial conditions, a recovery in inflation expectations and more favourable borrowing conditions for firms and households," he insisted.

"The effects of these measures are working their way through to the economy and are contributing to economic growth, a reduction in economic slack, and money and credit expansion," Draghi said.

If necessary, the ECB could review the size, timetable and modalities of the programme, "but, frankly, we don't see any need to do so," Draghi said.

In addition to the QE, the ECB has slashed its interest rates to historical lows and pumped unprecedented amounts of liquidity into the economy to try to get credit flowing again.

Markets have been speculating the ECB might end the stimulus programme early as it has successfully brought the eurozone out of deflation.

Data released Tuesday showed that eurozone inflation picked up to 0.3 percent in May after having been negative or flat for several months.