The European Central Bank kept its main refinancing rate unchanged at a record low of 1.0 percent on Thursday, as expected by economists.

Markets are now turning their attention to President Jean-Claude Trichet's news conference at 1230 GMT (8:30 a.m. EDT), when he will explain the decision and give the ECB's latest assessment of the economy. This month ECB members are meeting in Venice.

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.

The decision came as no surprise. All 82 economists in a Reuters poll expected the ECB to leave rates on hold.

The ECB began cutting rates in October as the financial crisis wreaked havoc in the euro zone economy, taking them from 4.25 percent to their current record low of 1.0 percent in May.

Since the ECB's September meeting, data has broadly supported hopes that the eurozone is beginning to pull itself out of the recession. The euro has risen around 3 percent against the dollar and more than 6 percent against sterling.

The Bank of England also keep rates on hold earlier on Thursday, leaving them at a record low of 0.5 percent.

(Reporting by Marc Jones)