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ECB strongly hints at rate cut next month

European Central Bank president Mario Draghi gave the strongest hint possible on Thursday of an imminent cut in eurozone interest rates next month.

BRUSSELS: European Central Bank president Mario Draghi gave the strongest hint possible on Thursday of an imminent cut in eurozone interest rates next month.

Speaking after the ECB's governing council held the bank's key interest rates at their current all-time low for the seventh month in a row, Draghi said the decision-making body was "comfortable" with the idea of easing monetary conditions in June.

"The governing council is comfortable with acting next time, but before, we want to see the staffs' projections that will come up in early June," Draghi said.

The ECB is scheduled to publish its latest updated growth and inflation forecasts next month.

There was a consensus among council members that area-wide inflation cannot remain so low for a long period of time, he explained.

The ECB has found itself under pressure to act amid growing fears the euro area was on the brink of deflation, a downward spiral of falling prices.

Economic recovery was so far slow and modest, and there were several downside risks, Draghi noted.

These included geopolitical uncertainty connected with the crisis in Ukraine.

But the strong euro, which is changing hands at almost 1.40 dollar, was also of "serious concern" for the central bank, Draghi noted.

While the ECB has no target for the euro-dollar exchange rate, a rising euro "in the context of low inflation and weak economic growth was a cause of serious concern," Draghi said.

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