The ECB left policy unchanged at the meeting and Christine Lagarde, its president, pushed back on interest rate cut talk, arguing that price pressures remained abundant, so any talk of policy reversal was premature.

"For the first time in many meetings, the risks to reaching the inflation target were seen as broadly balanced or at least becoming more even," the ECB's account of the meeting showed.

"All in all, members signalled that continuity, caution and patience were still needed," the ECB said. "There was broad consensus among members that it was premature to discuss rate cuts at the present meeting."

Rate cut expectations have gone though a rollercoaster ride so far this year. Markets at one point expected the ECB to start cutting as early as March and deliver 150 basis points of moves this year.

But concerted pushback, changed expectations for the U.S. Federal Reserve, hopeful growth figures, and fresh detail on underlying inflation pressures pushed that down to just 96 basis points by Thursday, with the first move fully priced in only by June.

"Members signalled that continuity, caution and patience were still needed, since the disinflationary process remained fragile and letting up too early could undo some of the progress made," the ECB added.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Francesco Canepa)