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ECB raises growth forecast, keeps rates at 0.5 pct

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) -- The European Central Bank has lifted its growth forecast for the euro area for this year to minus 0.4 percent, up from minus 0.6 percent.

However, the bank trimmed its forecast for next year by one-tenth of a point to 1.0 percent.

ECB President Mario Draghi made the announcement after the bank left its key benchmark unchanged Thursday at a record low of 0.5 percent. The eurozone is slowly recovering from a recession. It grew 0.3 percent in the second quarter after six quarters of decline.

Draghi says interest rates will stay low for an extended period until the recovery is on stronger footing.