The European Central Bank (ECB) held the benchmark rate at a record low of 1 percent for the 23rd consecutive month.

At today’s meeting the Governing Council of the ECB decided that the interest rate on the main refinancing operations and the interest rates on the marginal lending facility and the deposit facility will remain unchanged at 1.00%, 1.75% and 0.25% respectively, ECB said in a release.

Jonathan Loynes, chief European economist at Capital Economics, said the focus now is on ECB president Jean-Claude Trichet's press conference where he is expected to drop hints about the central bank's monetary policies going forward.

Analysts feel that the political crisis sweeping through the Middle East will refrain policy makers from further hardening rates. The U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said this week borrowing costs in the country would remain low for now.

Loynes pointed out that though Trichet struck a markedly more hawkish tone in January, he declined to ratchet up the rhetoric last month. And since then, inflation in the eurozone has moved further above the ECB’s 2 percent target and oil prices have gone up too.

Hence Loynes concludes that Trichet is unlikely to go for further hawkish language when he addresses media later today. He will also announce further lending operations to banks over the next three months and presumably insist again that the ECB’s bond purchase programme is still “ongoing”. Still, the overall message is likely to be that the ECB is gradually edging towards the policy exit.