The European Central Bank (ECB) on Wednesday left its benchmark interest rates unchanged and pointed to growing economic risks amid mounting concerns over the lingering eurozone crisis. In a news conference after the bank's monthly governing council meeting, ECB president Mario Draghi said the decision was made considering that the base line scenario of the staff projections did not change. According to Draghi, the June 2012 Euro system staff macroeconomic projections for the euro area foresaw annual real GDP growth in a range between -0.5 percent and 0.3 percent for 2012, and between 0 percent and 2 percent for 2013. The decision was taken by "very broad consensus", he said. "Over the policy-relevant horizon we expect price developments to remain in line with price stability," Draghi said. "At the same time, economic growth in the euro area remains weak, with heightened uncertainty weighing on confidence and sentiment, giving rise to increased downside risks to the economic outlook," he said. Markets have been speculating that the ECB could be offering long-term refinancing operations (LTROs) in the near term to alleviate the pressures of the banking sector in the euro area.