Bank expected to keep mortgage rates on hold

08 March 2005
Although the consensus view seems to be that the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee will keep mortgage rates on hold for another month when it meets later this week, most commentators believe that they will have to rise again by the end of the year.

Oil prices and high wage settlements have increased inflationary pressures within the economy, but consumer confidence is fragile.

David Frost, director general of the British Retail Consortium, warned "there is no need for another interest rate rise now. It would have a very damaging effect."

Manufacturers are also concerned about the prospect of a rise.

"Clearly if the MPC see inflationary pressure building they should act. But we're keen not to see an early, unnecessary, rise in interest rates. It's a sensitive time for manufacturers at the moment", chief economist Stephen Radley of the Engineering Employers' Federation, warned.

The Bank of England's base rate - on which most mortgage rates and savings rates are based - has stayed at 4.75 per cent for six months in a row.

Minutes of the February MPC meeting show that there is a difference of opinion between Committee members over whether there is a case for a change in rates.

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