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The European Central Bank Thursday held its key interest rates steady, as expected, as investors waited for ECB chief Mario Draghi to reveal more details of the bank's much-anticipated bond purchase programme. At the ECB's regular policy meeting, held in Nicosia, Cyprus this time instead of the usual venue of Frankfurt, the governing council voted to hold the benchmark "refi" refinancing rate at its current record low of 0.05 percent. Under the programme, the ECB plans to buy 60 billion euros ($68 billion) of private and public bonds each month for at least 18 months in a bid to ward off deflation in the euro area. The ECB will also publish its latest updated growth and inflation forecasts for the 19 countries that share the euro.
The Bank of England marked the sixth anniversary of its cutting interest rates to a record low by keeping them on hold once again on Thursday, but an improving economy suggests rates are likely to rise at some point over the next 12 months. While no economist polled by Reuters expects the Monetary Policy Committee will vote to raise rates before a May 7 national election, given record low inflation, there are signs that policymakers believe a rate hike could come sooner rather than later. The BoE said on Thursday it was keeping rates at 0.5 percent, their level since the depths of the financial crisis. Business surveys this week showed Britain's economy started 2015 strongly, and wage data in the next few months could provide some policymakers with enough evidence that it can start to be weaned off low borrowing costs.