Euro area GDP expands at 0.6% pace in Q2

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It intends to begin the process in the autumn, although inflation remains low at 1.3%, well under the 2% target for the eurozone. While the report confirms ECB President Mario Draghi's prediction that inflation would remain near June levels in the coming months, it also reinforces his assessment that, despite the region's booming economy, there isn't yet a self-sustained trend.

The euro was steady just above the $1.18 level in forex markets after the data, having hit a fresh 2½-year high of $1.1845 overnight.

GDP rose by 2.1% in the second quarter of this year in the euro area compared to the same three months the year before, and 2.2% in the whole of the European Union in the second quarter compared to the same quarter the year before. The central bank is expected to announce its decision in October.

The findings of the latest poll are in line with a separate Reuters survey of economists published earlier in July, which showed expectations for euro zone growth was strong and a reduction in policy accommodation was in the pipeline [ECB/INT].

The eurozone is still working off the effects of a crisis over high government and bank debt that forced member governments to bail out member governments Greece, Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus and Spain's banks.

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Among the clearest signs of a rebound has been the euro's pick-up to around $1.17, from $1.05 at the start of the year.

The euro is on course for its best year since 2003 when it ended the year up more than 12 percent.

Officials will have ample time to ponder economic data and policy options ahead of their September 7 meeting, and probably even thereafter.

Deepening political turmoil in Washington and diminished expectations for a third rate hike by the Federal Reserve this year have pressured the dollar lower. It is seen at 0.3 percent, the highest rate since February, after months of hovering between 0.1 and 0.2 percent.

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