European Central Bank keeps pandemic support going

Europe Economy

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The European Central Bank decided Thursday to keep its pandemic stimulus efforts unchanged even as consumer prices spike and central banks in other parts of the world look to dial back support as their economies bounce back from the worst of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Bank President Christine Lagarde underlined that the burst of inflation was temporary and the economy still needed support from the bank's 1.85 trillion euro ($2.14 trillion) stimulus program. But she added that the program would conclude at its previously announced earliest end date in March, opening the way for a decision at December's meeting on what might come next.

The bank's bond purchase program drove down longer-term borrowing costs for businesses as they weathered shutdowns and for governments as they spent more on pandemic support. It had been slated to run at least through March or until the bank deemed the crisis phase of the pandemic over, though rising inflation has sharpened questions about whether the exit should come sooner rather than later.

Lagarde said much of the surge in prices is tied to comparisons with