Europe's central bank leaves rates on hold but will reassess in December

The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, but left the door open for more stimulus, perhaps later in the year.

Global slowdown means inflation is nowhere near target levels, despite stimulus program

The European Central Bank left its key interest rate unchanged at 0.5 per cent on Thursday, but warned it may extend its stimulus program. (Michael Probst/Associated Press)

The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, but left the door open for more stimulus, perhaps later in the year.

After a policy meeting in Malta,  President Mario Draghi said the ECB would review in December what more it could do to tackle threat of weak inflation.

The ECB at that point could extend its quantitative easing bond-buying program or decide to push interest rates further into negative territory.

Inflation in Europe is far too low at minus 0.1 per cent and unemployment remains at a stubborn 11 per cent.

European economies showed signs of life earlier this year, but now the ECB is worried about volatile emerging markets and falling commodity prices. The slowdown that has affected all global economies is rippling through the euro zone, even in powerhouse Germany.

"We are ready to act if needed," Draghi said Thursday, adding that the ECB governing council was "open to a whole menu of monetary policy instruments."

The ECB has already cut its benchmark interest rate to a record low of 0.05 per cent and charges a negative interest rate of 0.2 per cent to banks for leaving money on deposit.

Draghi said monetary policy could not solve all of Europe's economic woes and urged eurozone governments to use fiscal tools to bring growth and inflation in line.

The euro fell against the U.S. dollar after the ECB meeting, to $1.1233.

With files from Reuters

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