Bank votes 8-1 to hold UK rates

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The Bank of England has held UK interest rates at the record low of 0.5%.

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted by 8 to 1 to keep rates unchanged.

One committee member, Ian McCafferty, disagreed with the majority outlook and voted for a quarter-point rate rise for a third month in a row.

UK interest rates have now remained unchanged for more than six years.

Low inflation

The central bank said cost pressures in the UK’s labour market were rising too slowly for inflation to return to the Bank’s 2% target, and that inflation would stay below 1% until spring 2016.

Inflation has been hovering around 0% for the past few months, but the Bank had indicated that robust domestic growth and the fading effect of last year’s big oil price falls would cause it to bounce back towards 2% next year.

Although UK consumer spending had remained resilient, bolstered by wage growth, attempts to reduce the UK budget deficit had restrained activity and global growth had been below average.

Policymakers appeared fairly relaxed about problems in emerging markets, saying there was little evidence so far that the slowdown in these markets was having much impact on advanced economies.

Nonetheless, a risk remained that “emerging market prospects might deteriorate further”, the policymakers said.

‘Cautious tone’

Many economists still think a UK rate rise will happen early next year, though some are starting to forecast a slightly later move as doubts mount about whether the US Federal Reserve will tighten policy before the end of 2015.

Alan Wilson, an analyst at Aberdeen Asset Management, said the MPC decision “marks a return to a more cautious tone” and that “the prospect of a rate rise is some way off”.

But Howard Archer of IHS Global Insight said “an interest rate hike from 0.5% to 0.75% sometime in the first half of 2016 still looks much more likely than not”.

“This is based on our belief that the UK will see some improvement in growth from its third-quarter soft patch and that consumer price inflation will start rising gradually from late 2015,” he added.

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