The European Central Bank will stop printing money by the end of the year, but should do so much sooner, a majority of economists polled by Reuters said.

The economists cited a solid and synchronised growth outlook for the currency bloc. 

The debate on the ECB ending its quantitative easing (QE) programme has now moved to when rather than should. 

That is largely driven by robust growth expectations with upgrades for a majority of the euro zone economies in the latest Reuters poll of over 100 economists taken between January 11 and 19. 

Minutes from December's ECB meeting signaled a revisit to its communication stance in "early" 2018 and specifically a pledge to continue its more than €2.5 trillion money-printing programme. 

A separate Reuters story based on three sources close to the matter last week showed any change to guidance was likely to come later than the January 25 meeting. 

About 90% of 70 respondents who answered an extra question said the ECB will completely shut its bond buying programme by the end of the year, including 26 economists who said September and four October. 

The remaining seven economists expect the central bank to end it sometime next year. 

But over 60% of the poll's participants who answered another question said the ECB should pull the plug on its €30 billion worth of monthly asset purchases by the end of September at the latest. 

That included almost a fifth of the economists who said it should happen well before September. 

The euro zone economy is forecast to grow on average 2.2% this year and 1.8% next, compared to 2.1% and 1.8%, respectively, in the previous poll. 

Surging business and consumer confidence and steady job creation have left economists repeatedly raising their estimates for major economies in the region. 

The German economy, Europe's largest, is expected to continue its solid upswing, with GDP growth forecast at 2.4% for 2018, compared to 1.9% in the previous poll. 

Economists were increasingly bullish about France's economic outlook forecasting on average 2% growth this year, up from 1.7% in a poll in October. 

But the ECB is expected to keep its interest rates on hold this year. 

The bank is forecast to have raised its refinancing rate by 25 basis points to 0.25% and deposit rates by 40 basis points to 0% by the end of 2019. 

The ECB is expected to take its deposit rates higher for the first time since 2011 in the second quarter of 2019. 

Those expectations come on the back of solid growth for the euro zone economy in 2017, during which it surpassed that of the US and Britain.  

The strength of the bloc's economy has driven the euro's best run since 2003 last year and a separate Reuters poll showed the single currency was expected to trade slightly higher by the end of 2018. 

Euro strength will be one of the challenges the ECB needs to deal with as a stronger currency tends to dampen inflation by making exports dearer and imports cheaper. 

Since the ECB's last meeting, the single currency has gained over 4% and policymakers need to evaluate the impact of this rise on prices and the economy. 

Indeed, the euro zone economy expanding at its fastest pace in a decade and jobless rate at nine-year lows has not converted into significantly faster price growth. 

Euro zone inflation is not expected to reach the ECB's target until 2020 at least, with the consensus ranging between 1.3-1.6% in each quarter through to the middle of next year.

For the full year, inflation is forecast to average 1.5% this year and 1.6% next. 

The risk, though, is skewed more to the upside for inflation as the latest expectations were higher compared to the previous poll and the range of forecasts show pessimism has dissipated.