Europe’s rates kept on hold

THE European Central Bank kept interest rates at 1 per cent yesterday to help the 17-nation eurozone stave off recession, while its president dodged questions on whether it could help Greece lighten its debt load.

Mario Draghi said that for now the ECB sees “tentative signs of a stabilisation in economic activity” and expects the eurozone economy “to recovery very gradually in 2012”.

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Some experts predict the region will slip back into recession, and Greece’s huge debt problems remain a constant source of concern.

Draghi ducked questions about whether the ECB would give up profits on the Greek bonds it holds, as suggested by some officials, in order to help finance a second bail-out package for Athens. But he did leave open a legal door for the ECB to help lighten Greece’s debt load at some point.