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Business

ECB paves way for more stimulus

European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi has left the door open to further stimulus measures in the 19-member eurozone, saying he would re-examine the lender's monetary policy stance later this year.

The ECB kept its benchmark interest rate unchanged at an all-time low of 0.05 percent on Thursday, leaving the foundations of its so-called quantitative easing scheme, or QE, firmly in place.

But Mario Draghi, the highest-ranking monetary policymaker in the common currency bloc, said the efficacy of that program would need to be re-examined when the ECB's Governing Council meets again later in the year.

Draghi's statement was in line with analysts' expectations, who had said prior to the meeting that an expansion of the ECB's asset purchases seeing the bank buy 60 billion euros ($67 billion) worth of mostly government bonds every month, was unlikely to happen so soon.

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But pressure grew for the ECB to do more to stimulate the economy of the 19-member eurozone when consumer prices fell by 0.1 percent in September. The purpose of the bank's stimulus program is to lift bloc-wide inflation to just under 2 percent so consumers won't delay purchases in the hopes of lower prices.

Eurozone countries are currently grappling with a fall in commodity prices and worries over slowing emerging economies. These factors have kept inflationary pressures negative, Draghi said, adding that he and the other rate setters did discuss cutting key interest rates further.

Some European central bankers say the ECB's QE program just needs more time to be effective. Others say it should accelerate or increase the size of the 1.1 trillion-euro program now.

cjc/hg (dpa, AFP, Reuters)

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