The European Central Bank on Thursday left its key lending rate unchanged at 2 percent, putting to an end of a series of cuts over the past four months.

Meanwhile, the Bank of England cut its benchmark interest rate for a fourth month to 1 percent.

The decision by the Frankfurt-based ECB, which sets monetary policy for the 16-nation euro zone, was widely expected. Inflation remains a concern for the bank even though it started to slow in January and the economy of the euro-region will shrink 2 percent this year, according to the International Monetary Fund.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet all but dismissed the chance of a rate cut this month after the Governing Council's January decision, saying that the next important 'rendezvous' for monetary policy would be in March.

The British central bank cut the rate by half a percentage point to its lowest level since the bank's creation in 1694.

In its statement accompanying the decision, the Bank of England said business surveys indicated a similar rate of decline in the early part of 2009 as credit conditions continue to tighten for households and companies.