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Bank of England holds rates at 0.5%

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The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted unanimously to keep the base rate at 0.5 per cent.

The committee voted 9-0 to keep base rates at their current low levels. At the last meeting just one member, Ian McCafferty, voted for a rise, saying he expected inflation to increase faster than the committee’s expectations.

Markets are increasingly pessimistic of a rate rise this year, and are now pricing in a higher probability of a rate cut this year than a rise.

Hargreaves Lansdown senior economist Laith Khalaf says: “Looking forward, the plunging oil price has taken over from the global financial crisis in discouraging the Bank of England from raising interest rates. The deflationary effect of cheaper fuel and energy is likely to keep policy makers hiding in their dovecotes for some time to come.

“At the moment UK monetary policy is being held in check by two opposing forces; low inflation on the one hand, and a growing economy on the other. Should the economy falter, the scales will start to tip towards loosening monetary policy once again, either through an interest rate cut, or more quantitative easing.”

Governor Mark Carney recently made a speech highlighting that UK growth and inflation had been more sluggish than expected, prompting many to assume any interest rate rise had been pushed out to late 2016 or 2017.

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