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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 November 2005, 10:36 GMT
Bank unanimous on UK rate freeze
The Bank of England voted unanimously to keep the core interest rate on hold at 4.5% earlier this month, minutes of its meeting have shown.

All nine members of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to keep the rate steady, with no arguments in favour of moving it in either direction.

The minutes indicate rates are now set to stay unchanged into the New Year.

Experts are split on whether rates will rise or fall in 2006. The last change was August's cut to 4.5% from 4.75%.

Some economists predict rates will be lowered again next year to aid the under-pressure manufacturing sector and lift retail sales, while others point to a rise to prevent any inflationary pressures.

Energy uncertainty

"The 9-0 vote and the general tone of the minutes confirm that the MPC is firmly in wait-and-see mode at the moment," said Howard Archer, chief UK economist at Global Insight.

The minutes showed there was also a range of views among MPC members about the likely pace of economic growth over the next couple of years.

MPC members said there was considerable uncertainty about the impact of current high energy prices on both inflation and economic growth.

The British Chamber of Commerce warned that earlier this month the Bank's current caution against further rate cuts could lead to major risks for the economy.


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