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The rates on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain at 0.00%, 0.25% and minus 0.40%, respectively.

The ECB left all its policy measures unchanged and did not touch the statement as expected.

Early hints a slowdown could be coming for the single currency's 19-member nations after a year of unexpectedly muscular growth also stayed policymakers' hands.

Draghi's typically cautiousness post-meeting address seemed to upset the Euro, specifically his claim that the central bank "didn't discuss monetary policy per se", to instead focus on the topic of the Eurozone's recovery and how "broadly all countries experienced. some moderation in growth or some loss of momentum" in the last month.

If growth slows significantly, the central bank could face pressure to extend its 30 billion euros ($36 billion) in bond purchases.

In the press conference Mario Draghi announced the governing council's message was for "caution tempered by an unchanged confidence that inflation will converge to our inflation target over the medium-term but that confidence is conditional on an accommodative monetary policy framework being in place".

Draghi's cautious comments sparked a sell-off in the euro, which slumped 0.4 percent against the dollar to hit $1.211 in late afternoon trading.


But with the risk of a global trade war still looming, it may not decide until absolutely necessary, so retaining the flexibility to adjust policy.

Draghi also warned in Washington last week that rising protectionism might already be hurting business and consumer sentiment.

Draghi said that some causes could be temporary, such as weather, strikes or calendar effects like the timing of Easter.

Economists polled by Reuters ahead of the meeting expected bond purchases to end this year after a short taper and to see the first rate increase in the second quarter of 2019.

One worry is that protectionist rhetoric from the United States could push down the value of the dollar, an economic anomaly as the Federal Reserve is likely to raise interest rates several times this year, a natural support for its currency.

He said it could be that the exceptionally strong growth of a year ago is returning to a more normal pace and that the bank would have to study incoming data more. Price growth stood at 1.3% in March, and central bank forecasts suggest it will reach just 1.7% by 2020. However, frequent suggestions of underlying weak inflation have called that timeline into question.

The impact of the euro's strength has been relatively limited so far, however.


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