Europe Stands Firm on Rates

Hope springs eternal when it comes to interest rate cuts from the European Central Bank, but the young central bank is already famous for disappointing investors and market pundits alike.

The central bank for the group of countries sharing the common currency kept interest rates at 2% Thursday, despite growing speculation that the ECB may ease monetary policy to counter the region's weak economic recovery and the strong euro. Hope was also fueled by the fact that inflation recently dipped below the bank's 2% target level.

The most hopeful economists thought the ECB might cut rates as much as 50 basis points as early as today's meeting. Now the markets will have to wait another month. European companies and government leaders have complained that the strong euro is hurting the region's exports to the U.S.

The ECB's benchmark rate remains twice that of the Fed's fed funds rate.

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