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ECB holds interest rates steady, expresses concern about pandemic-linked downturn Updated: 2021-01-22 13:21:40 KST

As widely expected, the European Central Bank on Thursday held its interest rates at zero percent, while leaving its program of unconventional monetary policy unchanged.
This comes as the central bank launched a pandemic-specific bond buying program to support the economy through the pandemic, and has offered cheap credit to banks in order to encourage lending.
During a press conference Thursday, ECB President Christine Lagarde warned that the COVID-19 pandemic is still posing "serious risks" to the euro zone economy, as lockdowns are tightened across the region.

"Nonetheless, the pandemic continues to pose serious risks to public health and to the euro area and global economies. The renewed surge in coronavirus (COVID-19) infections and the restrictive and prolonged containment measures imposed in many euro area countries are disrupting economic activity."

Lagarde also emphasized the importance of monetary stimulus during the pandemic.

"In this environment, ample monetary stimulus remains essential to preserve favorable financing conditions over the pandemic period for all sectors of the economy. By helping to reduce uncertainty and bolster confidence this will encourage consumer spending and business investment."

With more than 16 million COVID-19 infections in the EU, 2021 has begun with stricter social restrictions and national lockdowns.
Considering the economic uncertainty,.. the central bank vowed to update its policies whenever necessary.
Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News.
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