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ECB conference kicks off in the shadow of Brexit

The heads of the European Central Bank have come together for a strategy meeting in Sintra, Portugal. There can be no doubt that the gathering will focus on what the ECB can do to cushion the impact of Brexit.

The Brexit vote has sent financial markets into a tailspin and investors have been awaiting a response by major central banks.

At its meeting in Sintra, Portugal, which will end on Wednesday, ECB officials have signaled the lender stands ready to support financial stability in the wake of Britain's vote to leave the European Union.

Welcoming arriving participants on Monday night, ECB chief Mario Draghi said the best word to describe his reaction to the British vote was "sadness." He said he was "trying to find the right word to describe our feelings" and referred to "our British friends."

At the same time, Draghi urged conference participants to put the "extraordinary circumstances" of the past week aside and focus on the gathering's academic themes.

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Change of plan

The central bank confirmed, though, that a planned and important panel discussion would not take place at all. It was to bring together Draghi, Fed Chair Janet Yellen and Bank of England Governor Mark Carney. However, the latter two are now not attending the meeting at all, following the pro-Brexit vote.

Draghi, for his part, was to attend a

European Council meeting in Brussels

on Tuesday and Wednesday.

In his keynote speech in Sintra on Tuesday, the ECB chief called on central banks globally to intensify cooperation after the Brexit vote with a view to cushioning the impact of Britain's planned exit from the EU.

"We can all profit from a higher level of coordination among central banks," Draghi told the conference in Portugal.

The ECB's Sintra conference is the equivalent to the one held annually by the US Federal Reserve in Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

hg/jd (Reuters, dpa)

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