Draghi warns eurozone economy still fragile, praises departing ECB board's Asmussen

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There was some economic good news for eurozone companies and politicians on Monday as the latest business surveys revealed elements of a recovery – albeit a rather lopsided one with Germany steaming ahead and France floundering.

Markit’s Flash Eurozone Composite Purchasing Managers’ Inde (PMI), which gauges business activity across thousands of companies large and small, rose to 52.1 in December from 51.7 last month.

It was the second-highest reading since mid-2011. The index has been above the 50 mark that denotes growth for all the second half of the year.

But European Central Bank head Mario Draghi, speaking before the European Parliament, called the recovery fragile and said the ECB’s stimulus measures need more time: “Monetary policy in order to have its effect on prices and output has to be transmitted and there is a certain amount of time. I often say it takes a while before our monetary policy gets transmitted to the real economy. Other than that I think we have plenty of instruments to cope with deflation. We don’t see as I said, this risk now, but we are certainly very well aware.”

Draghi was also asked about the loss of his key ally, ECB board member Joerg Asmussen, who is quitting to join Germany’s new government.

Asmussen has been central to sorting out the eurozone crisis and the ECB’s chief negotiator in creating an EU “banking union”

Draghi smiled as he said: “His contribution to the work of the Executive Board and the ECB has been invaluable. We’ll miss him, we’ll miss him a lot.”

A leading candidate to succeed Asmussen is Sabine Lautenschlaeger, the Vice President of Germany’s central bank, who already has the backing of German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble.

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