ECB leaves benchmark interest rate on hold at 0 per cent

The European Central Bank left both its key interest rates and its daily bond-buying programme on hold Thursday saying that borrowing costs in the eurozone will remain at their current level for a protracted period of time.

The ECB governing council said it was keeping its benchmark refinancing rate at 0 per cent and its bond-buying programme at 80 billion euros (88 billion dollars) a day as it sizes up the fragile political and economic outlook triggered in part by Britain's decision to exit the European Union.

"The governing council continues to expect the key ECB 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," the bank said in a statement.

The market focus is now on ECB chief Mario Draghi's press conference at 1230 GMT for indications that the Frankfurt-based bank might be considering fresh stimulus measures at its next meeting in September to head off any economic fallout from last month's Brexit vote.

This could include extending or boosting the current bond-buying programme.

The ECB will release its new economic growth and inflation forecasts in September.

In addition to the Brexit vote, the ECB's governing council met against the backdrop of concerns about Italy's troubled banks, as well as worries about the possible economic implications for the 19-member eurozone of the terrorist threat and the failed coup in Turkey.

The ECB's benchmark refinancing rate has been on hold at 0 since March when the bank cut borrowing costs as part of a stimulus plan aimed at firing up growth in the currency bloc and boosting inflationary pressures.

The bank also announced that it had left its deposit rate at minus 0.4 per cent and the marginal lending rate at 0.25 per cent.

The negative deposit rate is aimed at forcing banks to lend funds instead of parking money at the ECB, while financial institutions use the marginal lending rate to borrow from the ECB overnight.

Last update: Thu, 21/07/2016 - 14:32

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