VILNIUS, Lithuania (AP) — The Latest on the European Central Bank's monetary policy meeting (all times local):
The European Central Bank has taken action to support the economy in the 19 countries that use the euro, responding to fears about global trade conflicts.
The ECB said Thursday it would extend the earliest date for an interest rate increase from year-end to mid-2020. Benchmark rates are currently at record lows.
The central bank, which is the monetary authority for the eurozone, also said it would offer low rates on previously announced two-year loans to banks to help keep loans flowing to businesses.
The ECB's move comes two days after the head of the U.S. Federal Reserve shifted the bank's stance toward stimulus by saying it could cut interest rates if trade disputes threaten growth.
The European Central Bank is wrestling with what to do about growth worries and sluggish inflation, just two days after the U.S. Federal Reserve opened the door to more stimulus.
Markets and analysts are waiting to see what the ECB's governing council decides at a meeting in Vilnius, Lithuania. The bank could, among other things, say it is offering very favorable interest rates in an already-announced round of cheap, long-term loans to banks.
It could also put off the earliest date for an increase in interest rates. Currently, the bank has promised to hold rates unchanged at least until year-end. Speculation that the ECB may provide more stimulus has grown as market expectations for inflation over the longer term have sagged, a sign of pessimism about the economy.