FRANKFURT, Sept 8 The European Central Bank left
interest rates unchanged as expected on Thursday and maintained
the key parameters of its 1.74 trillion euro ($1.95 trillion)
asset buying programme as it seeks to revive growth and
The decision to leave rates on hold was expected by almost
all 70 analysts polled by Reuters but a sizable minority also
expected an extension of the asset buys, now set to wind down
Facing high unemployment, weak growth and the threat of
deflation, the ECB has provided extraordinary stimulus in recent
years, cutting interest rates deep into negative territory and
pushing the cost of credit to all-time lows, hoping to jump
But inflation is still barely above zero and will hold below
the ECB's 2 percent target for years to come, supporting calls
for even more central bank policy easing.
Repeating its forward guidance, the ECB added that it
continues to expect its key interest rates to remain at present
or lower levels for an extended period of time and well past the
horizon of the net asset purchases.
It also said that its 80 billion euro per month asset
purchase programme is intended to run until the end of March
2017, or beyond if necessary, and until the bank sees a
sustained adjustment in the path of inflation consistent with
its inflation aim.
At Thursday's meeting, the ECB kept its rate on bank
overnight deposits, which is currently its primary interest rate
tool, at -0.40 percent.
The main refinancing rate, which determines the cost of
credit in the economy was unchanged at 0.00 percent while the
rate on the marginal lending facility -- or emergency overnight
borrowing rate for banks -- remains at 0.25 percent.
Markets now turn their attention to ECB President Mario
Draghi's 1230 GMT news conference, where he will unveil fresh
GDP and inflation forecasts.
($1 = 0.8902 euros)
(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)