FRANKFURT, Germany – The Latest on the European Central Bank's decisions on stimulus for the eurozone economy (all times local):
The European Central Bank notes the economy has strengthened, but steered clear of signaling it is planning the end of its massive monetary stimulus.
The bank left its bond-buying stimulus program unchanged Thursday and at the subsequent news conference President Mario Draghi noted that "downside risks have diminished," though inflation remains subdued.
The acknowledgement that the risks to the economy have eased shows the central bank is becoming more confident about the 19-country currency bloc and could be closer to signaling that the bond-buying stimulus program will be tapered off at some point.
The euro rose on the comments, as a currency tends to rise with higher market rates and the stimulus functions by keeping rates low.
The European Central Bank has left its bond-buying stimulus program unchanged but insists it is willing to add more monetary support if the economy needs it.
The statement from the bank's 25-member governing council Thursday gave no signal that the bank was getting ready to say when it might taper off its extraordinary support for the economy.
The statement kept wording indicating that the bank even "stands ready to increase" stimulus if the outlook worsens. Analysts consider that statement to be a way of discouraging speculation about the end of the stimulus.
The 60 billion euros ($65 billion) per month in bond purchases, slated to run at least through the end of the year, push newly printed money into the economy in an effort to boost inflation, which at 1.5 percent annually is considered too weak.