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ECB drops references to lower rates, downside risks

The European Central Bank dropped a reference to lower rates in its monetary policy decision June 8, and President Mario Draghi said that risks to growth were now "broadly balanced."

"The Governing Council expects the key ECB interest rates to remain at their present levels for an extended period of time, and well past the horizon of the net asset purchases," the ECB said in a statement. It removed a reference in previous monetary policy decisions to the possibility that rates might be cut, in a first sign that it might be moving toward ending a period of extraordinarily accommodative monetary policy.

"The risks to the eurozone growth outlook are seen to be broadly balanced," Draghi said at the beginning of his press conference. Previously, the ECB had said that risks were tilted to the downside.

But in its statement, the ECB reiterated its plan to continue monthly asset purchases to €60 billion until the end of December, or beyond, if necessary, adding that it "stands ready to increase the program in terms of size and/or duration."

It also left its key interest rates unchanged June 8, including its negative 0.4% deposit facility rate.

The rates on its main refinancing operations and marginal lending facility remain at zero percent and 0.25%, respectively.