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ECB leaves rates unchanged as economy slows
Benchmark refinancing rate stays at 1 percent; protesters gather
By The Associated Press

FRANKFURT, Germany ' The European Central Bank has left its benchmark interest rate unchanged.

The bank's governing council, meeting Thursday in Barcelona, kept the key refinancing rate at a record low 1 percent despite concerns that economy of the 17-country currency union may slow down more than expected.

Markets will focus on ECB President Mario Draghi's growth outlook at a news conference. Recent indicators for the eurozone have pointed down as it struggles with a crisis over too much debt in some countries.

A rate cut could spur growth but worsen inflation, which is above the bank's goal of under 2 percent.

The Barcelona meeting took place under heavy security precautions because of fears of violent protests.

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