FRANKFURT: The European Central Bank dropped a long-standing pledge on Thursday to increase its bond buying if needed, taking another small step in weaning the euro zone economy off its protracted stimulus.

Keeping its broader policy unchanged, the ECB said it could still extend its 2.55 trillion euro ($3.16 trillion) bond purchase scheme beyond September if needed. But it omitted a reference to bigger purchases, a signal that it remains on track to end a three-year-old stimulus scheme before the end of 2018.

Speaking hours before U.S. President Donald Trump was due to hold talks about planned new steel and aluminium tariffs, ECB President Mario Draghi cited concerns about "unilateral decisions" producing heightened risks to the global economy.

Having revived euro zone growth with lavish stimulus, the ECB has been dialling back support in tiny increments, fearing any big change could unravel its work and force an embarrassing and economically damaging policy reversal.-Reuters