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ECB poised to hold rates

Frankfurt - The European Central Bank (ECB) is expected to leave interest rates on hold Thursday as it considers deploying new instruments to spur economic growth in the eurozone and to bring the region back from the brink of deflation.

The Frankfurt-based ECB last cut rates in June, when it trimmed its benchmark refinancing rate to a record low of 0.15 per cent and lowered its deposit rate into negative territory.

Picture: Reuters. Credit: REUTERS

This formed part of a multi-pronged package drawn up by the bank to ensure the struggling 18-member eurozone economy remained on a growth path as well as allaying fears of deflation.

But since then, a slew of new indicators have raised fresh concerns among analysts that the currency bloc's recovery last year from a protracted economic downturn could be fading and that the region might slump back into recession in the coming months.

As a result, the market focus will be on ECB chief Mario Draghi's press conference - set to take place later Thursday - for an indication on how close the bank is to launching a new round of monetary stimulus, including an asset-backed securities scheme as part of a quantitative easing programme.

Analysts also expect Draghi to say that the ECB has lowered its economic growth and inflation projections for the eurozone. - Sapa-dpa

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