The European Central Bank is expected to push deposit rates further into negative territory when it wraps up its March meeting on Thursday. Josh Mahony, a market analyst with IG, based in London, thinks a further slide of such rates is a foregone conclusion.
Negative interest rates means banks must pay to hold money at the ECB. A further move into the red for these rates could incentivize banks to loan out money instead, which could spur economic growth. The deposit rate now stands at negative 0.30%.
"The ECB knows exactly what the risk is if they underperform," Mahony said, referring to the central bank's December meeting, when the markets expected an expansion of the ECB's monthly bond stimulus and were shocked when the central bank stood pat.
The expansion of the European Central Bank's bond stimulus, known as quantitative easing, could come later this week. The stimulus began around this time last year in an effort to lift inflation in the eurozone. In recent months, ECB President Mario Draghi prepped markets, saying its monetary policy will be reviewed at the March meeting.
"The question mark is what are they going to do in terms of raising the amount of QE that they're doing on a monthly basis?" Mahony asked. The ECB buys roughly 60 billion euros worth of government bonds each month, but Mahony said the central bank could look into purchasing corporate bonds as well.
The ECB's March meeting comes one week before the Federal Reserve'sclosely watched March meeting. The Fed will hold a press conference -- the first one since its December meeting, when the central bank hiked short-term interest rates for the first time in nearly ten years. Investors have priced in a zero percentage chance of a March rate hike, amid volatility in global markets and worries about China's economic slowdown.