The European Central Bank kept interest rates on hold at a record low of 1.0 percent as expected on Thursday, despite rising inflation fears.

Euro zone inflation hit 2.4 percent in January, topping the ECB's target of below, but close to 2 percent for the second month in a row.

Nevertheless, all 82 economists in a Reuters poll predicted the ECB would leave rates at 1 percent for the 21st meeting running this month.

The current median expectation among economists is for no change until the fourth quarter of 2011 although financial market investors have started to bet on a rise in Q3.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet will talk about the reasoning behind the bank's decision at a news conference starting at 1330 GMT.

(Reporting by Sakari Suoninen)