ECB raises eurozone growth forecast to 1.5 pc for 2015. Key interest rate unchanged at 0.05 pc

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The European Central Bank has raised this year’s eurozone growth forecast to 1.5%, up from 1% previously, the BBC reports.

Bank boss Mario Draghi said economic growth in the eurozone would strengthen slowly to reach 2.1% by 2017.

He also said there would be low negative inflation in the months ahead before prices began to rise in late 2015, with 1.8% inflation in 2017.

Earlier, the bank kept the eurozone’s key interest rate unchanged at 0.05%, as expected.

The ECB also confirmed the basis of its quantitative easing (QE) plans, first revealed in January.

The scheme will inject at least €1.1 trillion (£834bn) into the eurozone economy by purchasing €60bn of assets a month from next week until September 2016, Mr Draghi added.

“We will on 9 March 2015 start purchasing euro-dominated public sector securities in the secondary market,” he said. “We will also continue to purchase asset-backed securities and covered bonds which we started last year.”

Mr Draghi also said eurozone economic growth in the fourth quarter of 2014 was higher than expected.

“The latest economic data and, particularly, survey evidence available up to February point to some further improvements in economic activity at the beginning of this year,” he said. “Looking ahead, we expect the economic recovery to broaden and strengthen gradually.”

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