The European Central Bank has left its key interest rate unchanged at a record low 0.5 percent even though Europe's still in a recession.

The bank held off Thursday adding further stimulus for the 17 European Union countries that use the euro as it waits for a hoped-for recovery toward the end of the year.

ECB President Mario Draghi has said the bank is ready to act if needed. He stresses the ECB remains far from signaling any withdrawal of existing measures — unlike the U.S. Federal Reserve, which could phase out some stimulus next year.

Draghi's news conference later Thursday will be scrutinized for clues on whether the bank is any closer to cutting rates or to deploying other measures it says it is studying.