ECB holds rates, faces grilling on new measures

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An illuminated euro sign is seen in front of the headquarters of the European Central Bank in FrankfurtBy Eva Taylor and Paul Carrel FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged at record lows on Thursday, holding fire while it assesses the impact of a barrage of measures launched last month to pep up the flagging euro zone economy. The ECB held its main refinancing rate at 0.15 percent and its deposit rate at -0.10 percent, effectively charging banks for holding their money overnight as it tries to encourage them to lend to small- and medium-sized businesses. "After the rate cut in June, they'll wait a couple of months, probably until the end of the year, to assess the effect that will have." Markets' attention now shifts to ECB President Mario Draghi's 1230 GMT (8.30 a.m. EDT) news conference. The measures unveiled last month included extending the duration of unlimited cheap liquidity for banks until the end of 2016, and offering them a TLTRO four-year loan plan to borrow at a slight premium to regular ECB funding operations.

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