Bank of England Keeps Rates Unchanged


The Bank of England said Thursday that it decided to keep its emergency stimulus program unchanged and the central bank's key lending rate at its record low of 0.5%. The bank's Monetary Policy Committee also left its asset purchase program unchanged at £200 billion ($315 billion).

Minutes from the previous meeting showed a three-way split over the direction of monetary policy, with some in favor of raising rates to tame inflation, and others in favor of more stimulus to encourage growth.

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Other banks, such as the U.S. Federal Reserve and the European Central Bank, have recently stepped up their bond-buying programs to continue stimulus policies. Some at the BOE called for similar measures, Bloomberg reports, concerned about domestic demand and the effect of the European debt crisis on Britain's large export market.

Still, recent positive data on manufacturing and services in the U.K. indicate the recovery's momentum was unfettered in the fourth quarter. So while spending cuts to tackle the record budget deficit may curb expansion, so far the data suggest the economy may be strong enough to weather the government's impending cutbacks.

With inflation remaining above the bank's target of 3%, and some at the bank calling for a rate hike to slow price growth, any loosening of policy is a difficult sell.