The European Central Bank kept its main interest rate on hold at a record low of 1 percent for the seventh month running on Thursday, as expected by economists. Markets are now turning their attention to President Jean-Claude Trichet's news conference at 1330 GMT, when he will release new staff economic forecasts and is widely expected to give further details on how the ECB will start phasing out its emergency liquidity support for the banking sector.

The ECB also kept its overnight deposit rate, which acts as a floor for money markets, at 0.25 percent and left its marginal lending rate at 1.75 percent.

All 80 economists polled by Reuters had expected benchmark rates to remain at a record low, with inflation only just into positive territory and question marks lingering about the economic recovery.

Trichet is expected to confirm the ECB's next 12-month lending operation on December 16 will be its last.

Markets are also looking for a decision on whether the funds will be lent at a flat 1 percent rate, or the cost increased, and hints on whether the ECB will continue to meet all bids for funds in 2010.

(Reporting by Krista Hughes; editing by Patrick Graham)