Standard & Poor's thinks the European Central Bank will extend its quantitative easing programme

Jessica Morris
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The ECB could end up pumping a total of €2.4 trillion into the Eurozone (Source: Getty)

Credit ratings agency Standard & Poor's (S&P) has said it sees signs the European Central Bank (ECB) could extend its quantitative easing programme beyond September 2016.

S&P said the euro has strengthened against the currencies of slowing emerging market economies. This will make it harder for the ECB to meet its inflation target of just under two per cent. As such it expects the programme to last until mid-2018, and could even reach €2.4 trillion (£1.8 trillion).

"As emerging market currencies have declined, the euro has begun to appreciate again, complicating the European Central Bank's quantitative easing (QE) program, meant to jumpstart Eurozone growth and lift inflation expectations," the S&P report said.

Read more: Eurozone inflation unexpectedly turns negative in September

"We believe that these two weaknesses point to a continuation of QE beyond September 2016, as by then inflation will still be well under the ECB's target of 'close to' two per cent."

Official data has shown that the rout in oil prices has pushed the Eurozone economy back into deflation for the first time in six months. This comes against a darkening global economic backdrop, with low commodity prices stoking concerns over the slowing Chinese economy.

The ECB first launched its QE programme in March, to fend off a bout of deflation and kickstart growth, by buying government bonds and other assets. Frankfurt promised to pump around €1 trillion into the economy until September 2016, to lift inflation towards its target rate of just under two per cent.

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