Key ECB interest rates remain unchanged, and are expected to remain at present levels "for an extended period of time". At the 8th March meeting, the governing council confirmed the need for "an ample degree of monetary accommodation" to return inflation rates towards levels "below, but close to, 2%".
The rate of global economic expansion strengthened in the second half of 2017, with resilient US real GDP growth and brisk economic activity in Japan. In the US, markets are pricing in three or four interest rate increases for the year. Indicators point to sustained global growth in the near term.
Growth in the euro area was robust in Q4 2017, with real GDP rising by 0.6% quarter-on-quarter. Construction investment growth picked up strongly in 2017. Housing investment levels remain subdued from a cyclical perspective, but housing investment is expected to increasingly support GDP growth going forward.