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Last Updated: Thursday, 10 July, 2003, 14:10 GMT 15:10 UK
Eurozone rates left on hold
European Central Bank
Growth in the eurozone remains feeble
Eurozone interest rates have been left on hold, but most analysts still expect a cut later in the year.

The European Central Bank's (ECB) main interest rate remains at 2%.

A month ago, the ECB responded to calls for a dose of economic stimulation by cutting a half-point off rates, a decrease that many saw as sufficient at the time.

But with inflation low and growth still feeble around the eurozone, a further cut is seen as inevitable unless there is an unforeseen economic revival.

Heavy hints

The decision was widely anticipated by the markets, despite a rate-cut from the Bank of England earlier on Thursday.

UK interest rates
The Bank of England's new governor decided to take action

ECB President Wim Duisenberg gave an indication last week that no further reductions were imminent, telling the European Parliament that prospects for price stability were "globally unchanged".

The bank had "done its part to create resumption of growth in the euro area", he said.

Mr Duisenberg said it was up to governments, not the ECB, to kick-start growth by deregulating their economies.

This statement was a return to the old line pursued by the ECB, which sees fighting inflation as its sole and exclusive responsibility.

Euro relief

Speaking after this latest decision, Mr Duisenberg gave another reason for leaving rates on hold - the recent easing in the value of the euro.

The European single currency has lost ground against the dollar since May, after rising sharply for the first few months of the year.

"I must admit that we are relieved that the strong movement of appreciation in the exchange rate of the euro in recent months seems, at least for the time being, to have been interrupted," Mr Duisenberg said.

The appreciating currency had threatened to become a problem for the eurozone economy, since, although it helped fight inflation, it also made life difficult for struggling European exporters.

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