Noting the increased level of stress in Europe and signs of flagging growth, the E.C.B. promised to continue providing banks with effectively unlimited low-interest loans at least through the end of the year. Banks will be able to borrow as much as they want, provided they supply collateral.
While most analysts had not expected the E.C.B. to cut rates at its monthly meeting Wednesday, there was growing speculation that the governing council might cut below 1 percent for the first time in an attempt to restore confidence in the euro zone.