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European Central Bank to hold rate steady at 0.15%

FRANKFURT-AM-MAIN, Germany -- The European Central Bank (ECB) held its key interest rates unchanged at its regular policy meeting Thursday, just a month after easing monetary conditions in the 18-country euro area.

As widely expected, the ECB's decision-making governing council decided to hold the bank's main refinancing rate steady at 0.15 percent, the marginal lending rate at 0.40 percent and the deposit rate at minus 0.10 percent.

ECB watchers had not been expecting any new policy moves this month after the central bank unveiled a package of unprecedented measures in June in its battle to prevent the single currency area from slipping into deflation.

At that meeting, the ECB entered uncharted waters, taking one of its key interest rates into negative territory for the first time.

This means that banks will be charged for parking funds at the ECB to encourage them to lend to businesses and consumers instead.

ECB chief Mario Draghi also unveiled plans to pump more liquidity into the financial system later this year using the Targeted Long-Term Refinancing Operation (TLTRO).

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