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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 January, 2004, 12:43 GMT
Bank voted 8-1 for rate freeze
The Bank of England voted decisively against a rise in interest rates during this month's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) meeting, it has been revealed.

Released minutes show the decision to keep rates on hold at 3.75% was reached by a majority of eight to one.

However, analysts say there is still a good possibility that interest rates will be raised next month.

The MPC said that a gradual rise in rates would be necessary if the current economic trends continued.

Currency concerns

Weak inflationary pressure and concern about how a soaring euro could affect economies on the continent, were key factor's in the decision to keep rates on hold this month.

"The falling the dollar could put the nascent euro-area recovery at risk, and the euro area was a particularly significant source of external demand for UK goods," said the MPC minutes.

Many analysts think interest rates will now be increased by a quarter percentage point in February, the first rise since they were put up by the same amount in November.

"From the headlines that we've seeing it does look as though the MPC as a whole is still minded to lift rates in the near future," said Michael Hume, economist at Lehman Brothers.

"It looks like we're going to get a rate hike in February."

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