Highlights: Draghi comments at ECB press conference

The European Central Bank kept interest rates steady at a policy meeting on Thursday but unexpectedly cut its asset purchases to 60 billion euros ($65 billion) per month, from the current 80 billion euros. Following are highlights of ECB President Mario Draghi's comments at a press conference after the meeting. "Structural reforms are necessary in all euro area countries.
ECB to scale back asset buys as it extends to end-2017

European Central Bank President Draghi and Vice President Constancio address a news conference at the ECB headquarters in FrankfurtThe European Central Bank caught financial markets off-guard on Thursday by announcing it would trim asset buys from April next year, even as it reserved the right to increase purchases again if the euro zone's recovery faltered. The ECB said it would cut monthly purchases to 60 billion euros from the current 80 billion euros but extend the buys until the end of 2017. Markets had expected purchases to stay at 80 billion but only for 6 more months, suggesting a compromise between hawks and doves in the Governing Council.



U.N.'s Egeland says U.S. and Russia "poles apart" on Aleppo

By Tom Miles and Stephanie Nebehay GENEVA (Reuters) - The United States and Russia are "poles apart" in trying to agree the terms for evacuating people from besieged east Aleppo in Syria, U.N. Syria humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said on Thursday. Five months of negotiations over aid plans have all failed and produced "nothing", he said, adding it was up to the United States and Russia, whose foreign ministers have been meeting in Hamburg, to try to coordinate a deal. "The whole point of having co-chairs is that they are pulling together and they haven't been for quite some time," Egeland told reporters after a weekly Syria humanitarian meeting of countries with influence in the war.
British spy chief says Islamic State plotting attacks as Russia makes 'desert' of Syria

A picture illustration of an Islamic State flagBy Guy Faulconbridge LONDON (Reuters) - Islamic State militants are using turmoil sown by Russian President Vladimir Putin's bombing in Syria to plot attacks against the United Kingdom and her allies, Britain's foreign intelligence chief said on Thursday. In his first major public speech since winning the top job at the Secret Intelligence Service in 2014, MI6 chief Alex Younger said Russia and Bashar al-Assad were hindering the defeat of militants by attempting to make a "desert" out of Syria.



The Latest: ECB chief says stimulus not being 'tapered'

President of the European Central Bank Mario Draghi walks to a news conference in Frankfurt, Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016, following a meeting of the ECB governing council. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The Latest on the European Central Bank's policy meeting (all times local):





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