Mario Draghi

European Central Bank won't call time on stimulus just yet

The European Central Bank took small steps Thursday toward phasing out its extraordinary support measures for the economy, but made it clear the recovery still needs backing from the bank despite its growing strength.

The bank's president, Mario Draghi, was careful not to give a clear signal about when it will start withdrawing stimulus — a measure of the bank's caution about the potential impact such an announcement could have on financial markets.

The bank kept interest rates and its bond purchase stimulus program unchanged at a meeting of its 25-member governing council.

The council made a small concession to the improving economy in the 19 countries that use the...