Europe

ECB under pressure to extend stimulus amid uncertainties

  • People stand next to a merry-go-round on the Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)

    People stand next to a merry-go-round on the Christmas market in Frankfurt, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2016.(AP Photo/Michael Probst)  (The Associated Press)

  • President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi poses at the beginning of a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, following a meeting of the ECB governing council. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

    President of European Central Bank Mario Draghi poses at the beginning of a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, following a meeting of the ECB governing council. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)  (The Associated Press)

  • President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi walks to a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, following a meeting of the ECB governing council. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

    President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi walks to a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, following a meeting of the ECB governing council. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)  (The Associated Press)

The European Central Bank is expected to extend its main stimulus program in an effort to secure economic growth and inflation in a region beset by political uncertainties.

Analysts say the central bank for the 19 euro countries is likely Thursday to extend by at least six months past March the earliest end date of its stimulus program, in which it buys 80 billion euros ($86 billion) in bonds a month.

A decision not to could worsen market concerns about Italy, where Premier Matteo Renzi has resigned and there are concerns about the banks.

The ECB will also issue new forecasts for growth and inflation, which it wants to push up to healthier levels. At last count, inflation was 0.6 percent, far below the aim of just under 2 percent.