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Draghi comments at ECB news conference

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - The European Central Bank left interest rates unchanged on Thursday, holding off policy action while it waits for new economic forecasts next month to assess the deflation threat facing the euro zone.

Following are comments by ECB President Mario Draghi at a post-meeting news conference.

ON POTENTIALLY CEASING TO STERILISE BOND BUYS

"It's one of the many instruments that we are looking at, it's not been discussed ... we had a broad discussion about all the instruments, but let me say the relevant committees at the ECB have been studying all these measures, so that by the time and if we are to decide to activate the measures, we are ready to go. What measures we will decide to activate ... will depend on the contingencies that we will have to face."

SHORT-TERM INTEREST RATE VOLATILITY

"We watch, we monitor this volatility, but this volatility happens within a range that we set ourselves and it's not being transmitted so far at least to the long term and we see that this is the outcome of our forward guidance really."

EURO AREA MORE RESILIENT

"The euro area economy and euro area financial markets have shown a good deal of resilience with respect to (emerging markets) developments and in a sense, much more resilience than was the case almost a year ago, about eight, nine months ago."

BROAD POLICY DISCUSSION

"The discussion today was a broad discussion. It focused on the contingencies that may suggest policy action by the ECB and it specifically was focused on what could be the downside risks and what could make the downside risks that we still see materialize."

EMERGING MARKETS

"The risks surrounding the economic outlook for the euro area continue to be on the downside. Developments in global money and financial market conditions and related uncertainties, notably in the emerging market economies, may have the potential to negatively affect economic conditions."

READY TO ACT

"We are monitoring developments carefully and are ready to consider all available instruments.

"We remain firmly determined to maintain the high degree of monetary accommodation and to take further decisive action if required."

EURO AREA RECOVERY

"The moderate recovery of the euro area economy is proceeding in line with our previous assessments."

INFLATION EXPECTATIONS

"Underlying price pressures in the euro area remain weak and monetary and credit dynamics are subdued. Inflation expectations for the euro area over the medium term to long term continue to be firmly anchored in line with our aim of maintaining inflation rates below but close to 2 percent."

REITERATES FORWARD GUIDANCE

"We firmly reiterate our forward guidance. We continue to expect the key ECB interest rates will remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time."

(London MPG Desk +44 207 542 4441)

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