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ECB stands pat on rates


The European Central Bank held interest rates steady at its meeting Thursday.

The ECB's governing council has kept the interest rate on the main refinancing operations of the eurosystem — which provides the bulk of liquidity to the banking system — at zero. Overnight credit provided to banks from the eurosystem, known as the marginal lending facility, remains at a 0.25% interest rate. And the interest rate on the deposit facility — which banks may use to make overnight deposits — remains at -0.4%.

“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,” said a news release by the ECB.

The central bank also confirmed its plans to reduce the pace of its asset purchase program to €60 billion ($63.7 billion) per month starting in April, down from €80 billion.

Patrick O'Donnell, portfolio manager at Aberdeen Asset Management, said in an emailed comment: ECB President Mario “Draghi has ever so slightly opened the door to changing their policy stance. He's done this by saying that the governing council talked about changing the language about where rates are in their monthly statement, but didn't actually change it. This is effectively him signaling that something might change in the future, just not today.”