ECB leaves rates unchanged as expected

A file picture of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. PHOTO:  AFP
A file picture of European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. PHOTO: AFP

VALLETTA (REUTERS) - The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on Thursday at a meeting in Malta, holding them at record lows as it prints money to lift the economy and raise inflation.

The decision to leave the cost of borrowing unchanged was widely expected after the ECB cut rates to rock-bottom levels over a year ago and repeatedly said they had hit "the lower bound".

At Thursday's meeting, the ECB left its main refinancing rate, which determines the cost of credit in the economy, at 0.05 per cent.

It also kept the rate on bank overnight deposits at -0.20 per cent, which means banks pay to park funds at the central bank, and held its marginal lending facility - or emergency overnight borrowing rate for banks - at 0.30 per cent.

Markets now turn their attention to ECB President Mario Draghi's news conference and whether the bank will make any adjustments to its 60 billion euro per month asset purchase programme.