The European Central Bank held interest rates at 1.5 percent on Thursday as a jump in inflation last month offset pressure to respond to the euro zone's worsening debt crisis by easing borrowing costs.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet will explain the Governing Council's decision at a 1230 GMT news conference -- his last at a monetary policy meeting before he hands over the presidency to Italian Mario Draghi at the end of this month.

Markets are looking for hints that the ECB is preparing to cut rates next month or in December. A cut this year would mark a change in policy course after the ECB increased its rates in July and April, when it became the first major central bank to hike after the intensification of the financial crisis.

The ECB said the interest rate on its deposit facility would remain at 0.75 percent, and the rate on the marginal lending facility would stay at 2.25 percent.

(Writing by Paul Carrel)