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ECB keeps interest rates at 4%

The European Central Bank kept benchmark interest rates unchanged at 4.0% on Thursday, as expected, as policymakers weigh the risk of high inflation against concerns about euro zone economic growth.

ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet will present the Governing Council’s latest economic assessment at a news conference at 1:30 p.m. British time in Athens, where policymakers met for one of two annual sessions outside the bank’s Frankfurt headquarters. He is likely to face questions on inflation pressures and increasing signs that growth in the 15-country region is stuttering. All 83 economists polled by Reuters had expected rates to remain on hold this month, although most predict cuts to 3.5% by the end of 2008.

Trichet said a month ago that inflation risks were to the upside but the impact of the credit crisis was continuing while economic growth worries remained. The ECB also left its marginal lending rate, at which banks can get emergency overnight loans, unchanged at 5.0% and the deposit rate stayed at 3.0%. (Reuters)