Bank set to hold interest rates

Salisbury Journal: The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is expected to maintain interest rates at record lows The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee is expected to maintain interest rates at record lows

The Bank of England is predicted to hold back from prescribing further doses of emergency medicine for the ailing recovery amid signs the economy will return to growth.

The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee will maintain interest rates at record lows of 0.5% and leave the targeted size of its quantitative easing (QE) programme at £375 billion as the Bank works through £50 billion of asset purchases announced in July.

Most economists think the nine-strong panel will sanction further QE in November and hold their nerve today, a view reinforced by strong services data released earlier this week.

The move will come shortly after the Bank admitted that QE has increased the fortunes of the wealthiest 5% of Britons while eroding the value of many pension funds.

Vicky Redwood, chief economist at Capital Economics, said: "With the £50 billion of extra asset purchases announced in July still under way, there is no immediate pressure on the MPC to do more this month."

Earlier this week, the Bank was presented with mixed purchasing managers surveys, showing an improved manufacturing and services sector but a persistently struggling construction performance.

Aside from the surveys, there has been little change in the economic outlook since the MPC's last meeting, although SSE's 9% hike in energy bills from next month and the impact of US drought on food prices have threatened the inflation outlook.

The Bank currently expects the rate of inflation - which increased to 2.6% in July - to fall to the Government's 2% target by the end of this year.

Governor Sir Mervyn King and his colleagues will also want more time to assess the impact of the UK's £80 billion "funding for lending" scheme, which was launched in the summer with the aim of unclogging the flow of credit.

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