NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Europe--the poster child for global growth concerns--was back in the spotlight Thursday as investors wondered just when European Central Bank President Mario Draghi might finally pull the trigger on economic stimulus.
Much to the market's dismay, the ECB punted any decision until early next year. When pressed about how early, Draghi resorted to the kind of statements worthy of former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan.
"Early means early," Draghi said. "It doesn't mean the next meeting. It depends very much on how our assessment will go."
The markets didn't find much to cheer about in that kind of outlook. The S&P 500 closed 0.12% lower, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average slipped 0.07% and the Nasdaq fell 0.11%.
Still, analysts remained confident that the ECB would act sooner than later.
"Like the Federal Reserve, the next move by the ECB -- both when and what -- will depend on the progression of the data," Sterne Agee's chief economist Lindsey Piegza wrote in a report. "It remains obvious the ECB is ready to take action if needed."
Still, timing remains a necessary concern as the Eurozone's conditions continues to worsen. The region has suffered widespread deflationary concerns and high unemployment, even in its most robust economies such as Germany. The ECB cut its 2015 growth forecasts for the eurozone to 1% from a September forecast of 1.6%. Eurozone inflation is expected to come in at 0.7%, down from a previous estimate of 1.1% and far from the ECB's 2% target.