Nearly seven years after the BoE cut rates to a record low, the Bank has again left them unchanged. Most economists see the bank leaving a hike until later next year. David Pollard reports.
Nearly 7 years of record low rates - that has brought some good luck. UK growth is healthy - and with the prospect of a Fed rate hike next week, many see the BoE gearing up to tighten itself. Only, not quite yet. The minutes of its latest monetary policy committee decision showing only one of nine members voting for a hike. With two good reasons not do so, according to Simon French of Panmure Gordon. (SOUNDBITE) (English) PANMURE GORDON CHIEF ECONOMIST, SIMON FRENCH, SAYING: "The current inflation rate is actually negative 0.1 per cent ... But also the very strong sterling which we've had over recent months, and that has really kept the lid on inflation, and while sterling continues to act really as a moderating force it is doing the job for the Bank of England's monetary policy committee for it." There are other reasons too. British consumers are spending, but by not quite as much - shopping down 0.4 per cent on a like-for-like basis in November. UK manufacturing in an unexpected pre-Christmas slump - output fell 0.4 per cent in October. Plus: sliding energy prices, China and the euro zone. Jeremy Batstone-Carr of Charles Stanley. (SOUNDBITE) (English) CHARLES STANLEY DIRECTOR OF PRIVATE CLIENT RESEARCH, JEREMY BATSTONE-CARR, SAYING: "The external-facing sector of the UK economy is under extreme pressure and I don't envisage that changing any time soon, given our outlook for only very subdued growth across most of the major markets to which we export." As for the timing of a hike: many economists see it later next year. The minutes of this meeting talking of wage growth - a key measure for the bank - flattening out. And only a gradual return to a hiking cycle.