Interest rates held at 0.5% for the 78th month running

6 August 2015
The Bank of England has voted to hold the UK base rate of interest at 0.5% for the 78th month running, but raised the prospect of an imminent rise.The Bank's Monetary Policy Committee voted for maintaining interest rates, but there was dissent among the nine members, with 1 person voting for an immediate rise.Economists expect more members to vote for a rise in next month's meeting, leading to the increased expectation that a rate rise is on the cards sooner rather than later.Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, recently said he expects the Bank to consider a rate rise around the turn of the year.Maike Currie, associate investment director at Fidelity Worldwide Investment, said: "The tide may be turning on the era of ultra-low interest rates, albeit it very slowly. While the Bank of England will keep interest rates at 0.5% for now, monetary policy committee minutes show one MPC member, Ian McCafferty, voting in favour of an interest rate hike. Could this prompt others to follow his lead in coming months?"Peter Cameron, assistant fund manager at EdenTree Investment Management, added: "The waters have been muddied of late - on the one hand oil prices are falling again, but countering that is stronger than expected wage growth. These conflicting inflation trends are adding an extra layer of complexity to the rates outlook, but today's vote count indicates an incrementally more hawkish stance by the Committee as we approach the end of the year."David Meier, senior economist at Julius Baer, said these conflicts will end up pushing a rate rise later, to next year: "Given robust growth but some renewed downside risks on inflation, we maintain our call for the first rate hike on February 2016."Today marked the first time the Bank has released details of how members voted, at the same time as it released the interest rate decision - previously, the Bank released voting information two weeks after the decision itself.It also released its quarterly inflation report, making a bumper day of announcements - or a day industry insiders have coined 'Super Thursday'.In the quarterly report, the Bank of England downgraded its short-term forecast for inflation, citing the plummeting commodity prices. Oil has fallen from over $100 a barrel 12 months ago to below $50.

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