NAPLES: The European Central Bank held its record-low interest rates unchanged at its regular monthly policy meeting on Thursday, amid fierce street clashes between anti-austerity demonstrators and police outside the Italian venue.

As widely expected, the ECB said in a statement that it was holding its main “refinancing” rate steady at 0.05 per cent, after cutting it last month.

The bank also held its other two main interests rates — the deposit and marginal lending rates — at minus 0.20pc and plus 0.30pc respectively.

ECB watchers had not expected any new policy moves this month after the central bank surprised the markets with rate cuts and other measures last month.

But observers said they were listening out for details of the ECB’s contested plans to buy up asset-backed securities and covered bonds as a way of injecting cash into the moribund eurozone economy.

Outside the meeting, held in the famous Capodimonte museum in Naples instead of the ECB’s usual venue in Frankfurt, thousands of anti-austerity protestors clashed with police, with water cannon and tear gas used by the security forces to try and disperse the demonstrations.

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