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Last Updated: Wednesday, 19 April 2006, 10:30 GMT 11:30 UK
Bank voted 7-1 to hold UK rates
Bank of England
A change in interest rates is not expected soon
The Bank of England's interest rate setting committee voted 7-1 to freeze rates for the fifth month running, minutes of the April meeting show.

The minutes say there has been little change in economic conditions since March, with growths teady and inflation staying near to its 2% target.

Seven of the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) voted to freeze the 4.5% rate, against only one in favour.

Eighth member Richard Lambert left the MPC in March and is yet to be replaced.

Mr Lambert has left the committee to become head of the CBI to replace Sir Digby Jones.

Energy increase

Once again Stephen Nickell was the only MPC member to vote for reducing rates, as he saw the economy slowing.

But other committee members saw inflation risks from prices rising due to increased energy costs.

Oil rises, which have been rising in recent weeks, hit a record of $71.35 on Nymex recently. This trend could add further pressure on inflation, the committee said.

Meanwhile the MPC said consumer spending and the overall economy were growing in line with expectation.

There were no signs that the UK housing market was going to slow, despite fewer mortgages being approved.

The decision came as no surprise to analysts who do not expect a move any time soon.

The MPC is "steadfastly in wait and see mode", said Howard Archer, chief UK economist for Global Insight. "Any action on interest rates is unlikely for several more months to come."

"We are sticking to our view that interest rates will eventually be trimmed by 25 basis points, although the minutes suggest that this is unlikely to happen until at least August," said Mr Archer.

There is global uncertainty in the future course of interest rates. The US Federal Reserve has recently indicated that the period of raising US rates is likely to come to an end, while the European Central Bank has begun raising interest rates.

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