FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The launch of the European Central Bank's bond-buying scheme in 2015 is having an increasing impact on inflation although its positive influence on growth has faded to almost zero, ECB research showed on Tuesday.
The new study came as the ECB starts to debate whether growth and inflation have increased enough to wind down the 2.3 trillion euros ($2.6 trillion) scheme or whether another extension is needed beyond this year to keep inflation rising.
The initial introduction of the scheme, which has gone through several extensions already, had only a negligible impact on inflation in early 2015.
But this grew to 0.18 percentage point by the end of 2015 and 0.36 percentage point in fourth quarter of 2016.
The study, which does not necessarily represent the ECB's opinion, focuses on the announcement of the programme and the impact of the first 1.1 trillion euros printed under it.
It did not quantify its two extensions and changes in monthly purchase volumes.
Having flirted with deflation for years, prices are now rising, albeit only slowly and inflation is still projected to undershoot the ECB's target of almost 2 percent at least through 2019.
The scheme's impact on growth was strongest early on before it slowly fade to almost zero by the end of last year, the researchers concluded.
In the first quarter of 2015, it boosted growth by 0.18 percentage point and this fell to 0.16 percentage point by the end of 2015 and 0.02 percentage point by the fourth quarter of 2016.
Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Tom Heneghan