The European Central Bank has kept euro zone interest rates at their record lows today – as expected – and said they would stay there until the end of the year at least.

The bank said 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 0.00%, 0.25% and -0.40% respectively.

The ECB's Governing Council also said today it now expects its key rates to remain at their present levels at least "through the end of 2019".

It had previously said it would keep rates steady until summer.

The ECB said that rates would be keep at their record lows "for as long as necessary to ensure the continued sustained convergence of inflation to levels that are below, but close to, 2% over the medium term".

It also announced a new series of quarterly targeted longer-term refinancing operations (TLTRO-III)  which will be launched in September 2019 and will run up to March 2021.

It said these new operations will help to preserve favourable bank lending conditions and the smooth transmission of monetary policy.

ECB president Mario Draghi is due to give a press conference at the bank's headquarters in Frankfurt later this afternoon.