Historic low bank rates held at 0.25%

Interest rates remain unchanged at a historic low level of 0.25% following the latest Bank of England meeting, quashing rumours higher inflation could spark a hike this year.

The MPC voted 7-2 in favour of maintaining rates on Wednesday, making it more than a year since the rate was lowered in the wake of the Brexit vote.

It ends speculation that rates would rise after inflation rose to 2.9% in August, above the central bank’s target of 2%.

Thomas Miller Investment’s CIO Abi Oladimeji, said monetary tightening now would have been “counterproductive” and could undermine economic activity when confidence is already low.

He added: “The Bank of England’s decision to leave rates unchanged is consistent with the evidence on the performance of the UK economy. We have had bouts of higher inflation before without the need for rate hikes.

“The decision boils down whether or not the BOE expects the underlying drivers of inflation to persist.

“The balance of evidence at this point suggests that inflation is now close to its peak and should be on a downward trend by the end of this year.”

Ben Brettel, senior economist at Hargreaves Lansdown, agreed the bank was right to leave rates alone.

“To me, leaving rates where they are makes a great deal of sense,” he said.

He added: “Usually a combination of low unemployment and above-target inflation would mean a rate rise was firmly on the cards. But these are far from normal times.

“Throw a hefty dose of Brexit-related uncertainty into the mix and it’s easy to see why the majority of policymakers see higher rates as an unjustified risk at this stage.”

The MPC also agreed to maintain its £10bn investment-grade corporate bond purchases and its £435bn of UK government bond purchases.

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