European shares decline as airline stocks slump
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* Airlines slump as Lufthansa issues profit warning
* STOXX 600 index down around 7 pct so far in 2016
* ECB keeps rates unchanged at record lows
By Sudip Kar-Gupta
LONDON, July 21 (Reuters) - European stocks fell on Thursday, weighed down by a drop in the shares of major airlines after Lufthansa issued a profit warning.
The pan-European STOXX 600 index and the similar FTSEurofirst 300 were both down by 0.3 percent, hovering near session lows, after the European Central Bank (ECB) kept interest rates on hold at record lows.
The ECB added it still expects its key interest rates to remain at present or lower levels for an extended period of time and well past the horizon of its net asset purchases.
It also said its 80 billion-euro per month asset purchase programme would run until the end of March 2017, or beyond if necessary, and until it saw sustained gains in inflation towards the ECB target of close to but below 2 percent annually. Continuación...