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ECB to cut asset purchase program in half in October, end it after December

Mario Draghi does not expect rates to increase until at least summer 2019

The European Central Bank will halve its monthly asset purchase program starting in October and end it by 2019.

Announcing the outcome of a meeting of the governing council of the ECB, President Mario Draghi said the asset purchase program will reduce to €15 billion ($17.7 billion) per month after September's round of purchases, from €30 billion. Mr. Draghi said purchases will continue at that rate until the end of December and then will be ended.

The changes are subject to incoming data confirming the council's medium-term inflation outlook, he added. The bank's inflation target is close to but below 2% in the medium term.

The ECB said it expects to maintain its policy of reinvesting the principal payments from maturing bonds purchases under the program "for an extended period of time after the end of the net asset purchases, and in any case for as long as necessary to maintain favorable liquidity conditions and an ample degree of monetary accommodation," said a statement by the ECB.

The bank also kept the main interest rates for the region unchanged, at zero for main refinancing operations, 0.25% for the marginal lending facility and -0.4% for the deposit facility.

Mr. Draghi added that the current rates are expected to remain at these levels "at least through the summer of 2019."

At a news conference following the announcement, Mr. Draghi added that the governing council sees "increasing uncertainty" and highlighted that global GDP growth had "moderated" to 0.4% in what he labeled a "pullback from the very high levels of growth in 2017."