Ukraine looms over European Central Bank meeting

FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — The crisis in Ukraine and a hesitant recovery in Europe are casting shadows over the European Central Bank's meeting.

Economists say the monetary authority for the 18 countries that use the euro will look to reassure markets later Thursday that it is ready to back further stimulus measures if the economy takes a serious turn for the worse.

The 24-member governing council isn't expected to announce any new measures just yet. It approved a major package in June including a cut in its main interest rate to a record low 0.15 percent and an offer of more extra-cheap credit to banks. Now it's waiting to see how those work.

Recent signs have been mixed. Surveys of purchasing managers point up. But Italy's economy slid into recession in the second quarter.

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